An Act respecting national security matters

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

Considering amendments (Senate), as of June 12, 2019

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Summary

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 sixth 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.

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.

Votes

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)

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

November 20th, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will do more than share my own thoughts. I will convey the thoughts of the Canadians we talked to in our consultations. They were clear on their concerns about their safety and security. No one is oblivious to the events of the past few years. The Canadians we consulted were clear on the extraordinary value of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canadians themselves are divided on where the balance lies between maximizing our safety and preserving our rights and freedoms. This was a key concern to the Canadians we consulted, and it is taken into account in the proposed Bill C-59.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

November 20th, 2017 / 4 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the government's intent to send Bill C-59, a national security act to amend the oversight and powers of our security agencies, directly to committee.

As I have said in this place before, the top priority of this House must be to protect all Canadians. The protection of our people should be placed ahead of political manoeuvring and should be of top concern for all members, regardless of political party. I would hope that the recent request by the Minister of Public Safety to move Bill C-59 directly to committee before second reading is in support of this ideal that the safety of Canadians comes ahead of political goals. However, I am left to wonder if this is just a disguised time allocation move or a ploy to avoid multiple votes at second reading on this omnibus bill, as per the Liberals' recent changes to Standing Order 69, or both.

Whether the government acknowledges that there are areas of this bill that might be improved is to be determined. However, my hope is that an open, thorough, and complete study of this bill will not be met with time limitations or political deadlines ahead of the goal of protecting Canadians. To do this, we need to allocate adequate time to ensure that we hear all points of view, from those who think this bill goes too far to those who feel it does not go far enough.

From my 35-year career in policing, I know full well that the playing field is not level. Our national security and policing agencies operate within the rules and are confined generally to national borders. They act in the best interests of Canadians to protect us and to ensure that the measures they undertake are reasonable and in the public interest. Those who would seek to do us harm, both foreign and domestic, are not concerned about rules or where they are from but about what they intend to do.

Empowering and supporting our security agencies is about defending the best interests of Canadians. This is why unreasonable limitations on our national security agencies will have a negative impact on protecting Canadians. Let us be clear. When we identify a specific list of activities our security and intelligence agencies can do, and then create a set of rules around using those tools, we are creating a playbook, for those seeking to do us harm, on how to avoid detection and operate outside the reach of those agencies that are set up to protect us.

Unreasonable limitations on police, judges, and national security agencies in monitoring known threats would be a mistake. Checks and balances are needed. However, we need enhanced and more effective communications and information-sharing and powers to determine threats in advance, not a limiting of those powers.

Unprecedented attacks have been witnessed repeatedly across Europe, such as the killing of innocent people for no reason other than for being members of an open, welcoming, and pluralist society. The recent events in Edmonton are a Canadian example. Officer Mike Chernyk was stabbed, yet heroically fought off an extremist attacker after being struck by a car. The suspect then went after innocent people using his vehicle.

Canadians were sickened by this attack. Such things stand in direct contrast to our Canadian values: freedom to worship, freedom of speech, and freedom from fear of random and cowardly attacks, all things that fundamentalists like ISIS are against. What concerned many Canadians was that the information about this individual being a threat was there, but nothing was done to prevent it. We knew this man was a threat, because Canadians came forward and reported him as a potential radical and suggested he could carry out an attack. The police interviewed him but could not take any further action. The same man came to Canada as a refugee after being ordered deported from the United States as a failed refugee claimant. It would be inflammatory to suggest that all illegal border-crossers are like this one, but it would also be naive to think that others like him will not attempt to abuse our flawed system. The information was there but was not used in a way that could help Canadians, and the police lacked the ability to take further action.

We owe it to those who are protecting us to give them the powers they need to act. Reducing or limiting the use of monitoring or recognizance orders does little to protect Canadians. Given that these orders come from a judge for monitoring Canadians, it seems questionable at best that monitoring suspected or known threats should be limited.

We owe it to all those who work for the cause of protecting Canada from threats, both foreign and domestic, to ensure that the risk and execution of such attacks are mitigated. We owe it to everyday Canadians, people who are living good, honourable lives and are seeking nothing other than to live free and to support their communities.

It would be difficult to look into the eyes of Canadians or to explain to Edmonton officer Mike Chernyk, or to victims of abuse and violence at the hands of extremists, that we do not want to empower our security agencies to defend us, that we do not respect their integrity enough to give them the tools to do their jobs, and that we cannot trust them to act honestly and respectfully.

I am reminded of what our former prime minister said in his speech in the wake of the attack on Parliament Hill and the death of Nathan Cirillo:

We are also reminded that attacks on our security personnel and on our institutions of governance are by their very nature attacks on our country, on our values, on our society, on us Canadians, as a free and democratic people who embrace human dignity for all.

But let there be no misunderstanding. We will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated. In fact this will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts, and those of our national security agencies, to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats, and keep Canada safe here at home. Just as it will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world, and fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores. They will have no safe haven....

...I have every confidence that Canadians will pull together, with the kind of firm solidarity that has seen our country through many challenges. Together we will remain vigilant against those at home or abroad who wish to harm us.

There must be an appropriate balance between empowering our front-line security and police agencies to do their jobs while respecting the rights of Canadians. I would like to believe that all members of this House share that sentiment.

With our tax system, we compel everyone to provide an honest and accurate accounting of their finances and to file it with the CRA. We then entrust a select group of people to review those filings to identify any potential issues. Those thought to be in violation of the CRA rules are audited, and if guilty, are sanctioned. Throughout that process, there are checks and balances. With a responsibility far more critical than tax collection, that being the protection of Canadian values, the protection of Canadian lives, the integrity of our economy, and the protection of our very way of life, why would we expect a less rigorous national security program than that for our tax system? Why would we say that we are subject to scrutiny for potentially leaving something out of our taxes but not if we are planning to attack our national security and public safety?

I welcome the opportunity that a thorough and complete review of this legislation represents: a chance to ensure that our police and national security agencies have the appropriate powers to do their jobs to protect us.

As a Christian, I am taught and believe in forgiveness, but nowhere does my faith say that we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to becoming victims of those who would do us harm.

Let us all work towards the balance in this legislation that would provide tools for our security agencies, respect our rule of law, and provide oversight and direction to our intelligence and security agencies. Most of all, let us put the protection of Canadians first and foremost.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

November 20th, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standing Order 69.1—Omnibus BillsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask that you consider Standing Order 69.1 and divide certain parts of Bill C-59 before us today into separate pieces. As mentioned during today's debate, I believe that Bill C-59 is an omnibus bill as described in that standing order.

Standing Order 69.1 now says, in part:

(1) In the case where a government bill seeks to repeal, amend or enact more than one act, and where there is not a common element connecting the various provisions or where unrelated matters are linked, the Speaker shall have the power to divide the questions, for the purposes of voting.

I submit that Bill C-59 fits that description.

We are thinking of this analysis at this time, because in your ruling of November 7 on Standing Order 69.1, you said:

Where members believe that the Standing Order should apply, I would encourage them to raise their arguments as early as possible in the process, especially given that the length of debate at a particular stage can be unpredictable.

That is what we believe we are doing today.

Here is how I see the various parts of the bill and why, I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, we believe they should be divided into different parts to be voted on separately.

Let us take a look at part 1 and part 2. Part 1 enacts the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency Act, and part 2 enacts the Intelligence Commissioner Act. These two parts enact two new acts and amend up to 12 existing acts.

These parts obviously create watchdogs to oversee the national security agencies.

The activities of the new agencies created under this bill would affect up to 14 federal departments. Since these parts create new agencies and enact two brand-new acts with a very specific mandate, we believe they should be voted on separately.

We believe that part 3 should be separated because it makes a significant change. It too would enact a new act, the Communications Security Establishment Act, yet another act that will amend existing acts.

That proposed act would also amend the National Defence Act. We know that the minister responsible for CSE is the Minister of National Defence. Again, we feel that puts certain optics around this debate, given that the Minister of Public Safety is tabling this bill, and the purpose for changing that particular piece.

Still on part 3, I do want to mention that many of these components are being painted as dealing with specific aspects of national security, more specifically terrorism, but if we look the part dealing with CSE, we see that a large part of the mandate goes beyond just terrorism. It could be individuals and, to use the colloquial term, hackers or even states that would be engaging in certain forms of cyber-activity. The proposed act would give CSE the ability to interfere and even counter certain things that might be done, which is very separate from reforming elements of the previous Bill C-51.

Parts 4 and 5 deal with metadata collection and the threat disruption powers being given to CSIS. In the case of the metadata collection, that of course is something new. In the case of threat disruption, we are obviously looking at what the specific intent of the bill was, which is to repeal and amend, in this case to amend certain things brought in under Bill C-51 in the previous Parliament.

We are also looking at changes to SCISA, the information-sharing regime brought in by former Bill C-51. That again leads us to argue that parts 4 and 5, given their nature and the connection they have with previous legislation that is being changed, should be looked at together.

Part 6 has to do with the Secure Air Travel Act and the no-fly list. We definitely think this needs to be separated. There are a number of important elements to consider, not to mention the issue of funding and the different work that will be done by the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Transport in co-operation with airlines.

Part 7 deals with specific changes to the Criminal Code, certain offences that were brought in under Bill C-51, and other aspects that needed to be cleaned up based on the reforms the government wishes to propose to the Criminal Code, specifically to what the previous government did in that respect. We are looking here specifically at how terrorism charges are laid and prosecuted in Canada, which is fair to argue is very distinct from dealing with cybersecurity threats or even the no-fly list. We are looking here at the way the justice system is treating these matters.

Part 8 is in the same vein because it proposes changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act. It looks at those offences, but from the perspective of young offenders and, more specifically, at how to deal with those particular cases.

Parts 9 and 10 are the more procedural elements, dealing with statutory review and coming into force provisions. We believe that we can group together parts 7, 8, 9, and 10.

As you obviously know, the Standing Order currently gives you the power to divide a bill, but is limited to “the motion for second reading and reference to a committee and the motion for third reading and passage of the bill.” I am sure that could be read to mean that you do not have the power to divide the bill for a vote on a motion like the one before us to immediately refer a bill to a committee forthwith.

The government, by presenting this motion in a way that, on the surface, is well intentioned and indicates its wish to significantly amend the bill and hear experts at committee, I submit is actually attempting to circumvent Standing Order 69.1, knowing full well that this is omnibus legislation. It is trying to do so by sending this bill to committee before second reading, and therefore preventing us from going forward with the way the Standing Order is now drafted, which would mean second reading and then referral to committee. That is not how the process would take place given the motion that is before the House today.

This bill has so many components and, as the government has said, is perhaps one of the most significant changes to the various components of national security, whether oversight, CSE, or CSIS. It includes some significant changes to how national security cases are charged and prosecuted in the judicial system. It is telling that the government seems to recognize the omnibus nature of the bill in debate here today. It seems the only procedural way to hide the omnibus nature of the bill is for the government to present the motion today to provide it with a legislative pathway that would allow it to circumvent its own new rules in the Standing Orders on omnibus provisions.

We are concerned that the Liberal government is hiding the omnibus nature of this bill from the public. From a communications point of view, we know it sounds nice to only talk about the oversight elements when experts have agreed there are very significant concerns over how cyber-weapons, as described in part 3 of the bill, would operate. We have even heard experts say it is not possible for them to fully analyze all of the elements or the entire scope of the bill, even with their own expertise. To me, that is very telling of the omnibus nature of the bill and the difficulties of undertaking a legislative process in the way proposed by the government.

While wanting to give the benefit of the doubt to the government and its good intentions to have a robust study, the feeling we get from our reading of the Standing Order seems to be that this is an attempt to do through the back door what it is forbidden from doing through the front door, thereby preventing you and the powers conferred on you in this place to separate the different aspects of the bill.

I assert that under Standing Order 69.1, the role of the Speaker is to apply the rules of the House to deal with different concepts and themes in a bill with a different vote, which is obviously what I am raising today, so that MPs can represent their constituents' views differently on each part of a bill if they believe they should and are able to vote appropriately based on the different complexities and nature of different points. As my colleague from Victoria just pointed out in his speech, the fact that we might agree with the government on going forward with certain elements of oversight is distinct from a debate on cybersecurity or one on the no-fly list, which are very different matters. Pardon my choice of words, but I believe comparing oversight to cybersecurity, the Criminal Code, and the no-fly list seems a little ludicrous, and makes it very challenging as members of Parliament to properly vote and express ourselves.

By having the bill go through before second reading, the government is arguing that it should be treated as one whole question. It is all about security. However, anything can essentially be qualified as national security. That is obviously not enough of a common element.

When we look at what these different parts would do, the new acts that would be created and the acts that would be amended, forcing MPs to vote on the creation of two new acts and the amendments of dozens of other acts, such significant acts as the National Defence Act, the CSIS Act, and others, it certainly causes problems for members of Parliament who wish to vote on these different distinct components. I also submit that it circumvents these very same omnibus rules that have been put in place by a government that said this would no longer be a practice, as we saw under the previous government.

Mr. Speaker, you stated in your November 8 ruling about the uses of Standing Order 69.1, “In my view, the spirit of the Standing Order was to provide for a separate vote when new or unrelated matters were introduced in the budget implementation bill.” I agree with the logic you expressed at the time and believe that in this case, the same logic could apply. We are, of course, dealing with new and unrelated matters that were not part of the debate leading up to the tabling of the legislation and the arguments the government made for the need to reform certain elements of legislation tabled in the previous Parliament. I hope you will agree with our assessment and arrive at the same finding here today.

Finally, I submit that Standing Order 69.1 should apply at all stages of the process, including sending the bill to committee before second reading. Again, the motion is before us today. This way, a bill that contains very different ideas would be divided in such a way at every stage that members could continue to express their views, the views of their constituents and the views of Canadians more broadly in dealing with these very distinct and complicated matters when it comes to these important reforms and not simply having to say yes or no to these sweeping reforms and then be accused of being on one side or the other when clearly there are some very distinct components.

I thank my colleagues for their indulgence. New Democrats fundamentally believe that these important and unique changes to such cornerstones of our democracy as national security and the protection of Canadians' rights and freedoms and privacy deserve to be separated in order for members to express Canadians' concerns and views through a vote. That is why I thought it was extremely important to bring all of this to the attention of the House.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

November 20th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
See context

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country B.C.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have this opportunity to speak in support of sending Bill C-59, legislation that would bring Canada's national security framework into the 21st century, to committee before second reading. The bill is the result of extensive consultation, and it is in this spirit that it continues through the legislative process.

I would like to thank the numerous agencies and individuals who have offered their expertise and advice in order to ensure that Bill C-59 balances the security of Canadians with the privacy and rights of Canadians, and particularly for their participation through an open and transparent process.

Bill C-59 takes significant steps in three key areas: first, it repeals problematic elements of the former Bill C-51; second, it updates and improves national security law commensurate with and in order to keep pace with evolving threats; and third, it enhances accountability and transparency. Taken together, the proposed measures in Bill C-59 represent comprehensive and much-needed improvements to Canada's national security framework. These improvements would make Canada more secure, our agencies more accountable, and our laws more transparent and up to date.

It is important to understand, and perhaps self-evident, that much of Canada's national security law was written in the 1980s and well before the standard of information technology today, which has transformed the national security and intelligence landscape. Today, smartphones and wireless connectivity is a natural extension of our lives and maybe even ourselves. Therefore, it should be obvious and deeply concerning that technology today in the hands of criminals and terrorists can be used to plan and carry out horrific terror attacks against innocent people. It can also be used to influence and recruit individuals.

Cyber-threats, espionage, and foreign interference are complex and active threats, and yet rapidly-evolving technology is not the only national security challenge we face. The emergence of non-traditional threat actors, outdated legal authorities, and resource shortfalls reveal further gaps in our national security framework, compounded by an unstable international political environment marked by violence and repression, civil war, and failed and failing states throughout the world. It is a very different world from the one that existed in 1984, which is when the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act came into force.

Canada's national security law has not kept pace with the transformative changes of the past few decades. According to Justice Noël of the Federal Court in a judgment last fall, he said that the CSIS Act was showing its age with regard to new technology and developments over the past quarter century.

The safety and security of Canada and Canadians depend on having laws in place that accurately reflect today's realities. The proposed legislation before the House is the right way forward in that regard. It modernizes the CSIS Act in a responsible, accountable, and transparent way. If passed, Bill C-59 will allow our security and intelligence agencies to keep us safe by staying ahead of new and emerging threats and technologies in full respect of our rights.

First and foremost, a modernized CSIS Act would serve to address the agency's outdated legal authorities. It would also update and improve the transparency and accountability regime under which CSIS would operate, a consideration that was noted time and time again during last year's consultation process.

Bill C-59 proposes to bolster the authorities underpinning the technical capabilities of CSIS in order to modernize the collection of digital intelligence. The legislation also proposes to establish a list of distinct measures that can be authorized under warrant to reduce threats in the current environment. It would also clarify that a warrant would be required for any threat reduction measure that would limit a right or freedom protected by the charter, and that a warrant could only be issued if a judge would be satisfied that the measure would be consistent with the charter.

A strong framework would also be created within the act for data analytics that would involve data sets and that would put the rights of Canadians first. For example, once the bill is passed, CSIS will require authorization from the intelligence commissioner to acquire any Canadian data sets and Federal Court approval to retain them. This will ensure that the personal information of Canadians is subject to strict safeguards.

Under Bill C-59, foreign data sets containing information on non-Canadians would also require authorization from the commissioner.

These are only a few of the important new measures being proposed under Bill C-59 and were shaped by the tens of thousands of views that the government heard in its extensive public consultations on national security.

I am very proud to stand with the government in supporting Bill C-59. I look forward to its consideration by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security before second reading, so the committee will have greater latitude in how it conducts its study.

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November 20th, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, the legislation before us, Bill C-59, is a huge piece of legislation. It goes far beyond the Liberal campaign promise to unwisely roll back a number of elements of Bill C-51, a bill that the Liberals supported when they were the third party in the House. I will say more about that in a moment. Bill C-59 is a multi-faceted attempt at the largest, broadest, and deepest redrawing, remodelling, overhauling, and consolidation—call it what they may—of Canada's national security laws in three and a half decades. It is, by any definition and any measure, an omnibus bill. Bill C-59 would create three new acts and would make significant changes to five existing acts. As my colleague from Barrie—Innisfil noted, the official opposition reserves the right to comment after the Speaker's decision on the NDP motion to separate.

In its complexity, Bill C-59 can only be described as an imperfect bill. There are good elements, which we in the official opposition support, but other elements that we strongly oppose. Similarly, Bill C-59 has been characterized by experts, at least by lawyers, academics, and others who have long studied and opined on national security issues, in a variety of ways, that it would resolve some problems and would ignore others. It would create some entirely new ones. Its elements are a combination of roses and thorns, and a firmly held criticism by the official opposition that two sections would actually weaken Canada's national security agencies and their ability to keep Canadians safe. The current Liberal government would make it more difficult for law enforcement and security agencies to prevent terrorist attacks on Canadian soil. Instead of combatting radicalization and cracking down on those who promote terrorism, Bill C-59 would create loopholes that advocates of terrorism could easily exploit.

With regard to the details, part one of Bill C-59 would create what is described as the centrepiece of the legislation, what others more colloquially describe as a super intelligence agency. It would be called the national security and intelligence review agency. Under its acronym, NSIRA, it would be assigned to review and report on the lawfulness of all national security and intelligence agencies across government. It would investigate complaints against the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, known by its acronym CSIS, complaints against the Communications Security Establishment, CSE, and complaints against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. NSIRA would be intended, the Liberals tell us, to work with the new committee of Parliament, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. The new agency, like the parliamentary committee, would report annually to the Prime Minister. This last point, for me, is another point of concern. On this side of the House, we would have preferred to have had these reports made directly to the Houses of Parliament rather than being filtered through the Prime Minister's Office.

Part 2 of Bill C-59 would establish what is described as an independent, quasi-judicial intelligence commissioner, who would assess and review ministerial decisions regarding intelligence gathering and cybersecurity activities. Our concerns here flow from the procrastination and delays by the Liberals, more directly by the Prime Minister's Office, to fill vacancies across a range of close to a dozen existing commissioner positions, the last time I looked. These are delays that have more to do with the PMO's misguided intent to socially engineer with partisan overtones these arm's-length positions rather than to appoint by talent and qualifications.

Moving on, parts 3 and 4 of the bill are said to respond to concerns about charter consistency of the mandates and the powers of CSE and CSIS. However, part 4 would strip an important element of Bill C-51, passed by our previous Conservative government in 2015, an element that gave CSIS new authority to disrupt terrorist threats. The Liberals supported Bill C-51 in 2015, though they vaguely committed to roll back what they called problematic parts. They certainly have, caving in now in Bill C-59, to seriously restricting the ability of CSIS to conduct disruption actions to certain specific actions, and only unless and until officers and operatives follow a burdensome process to obtain a judicial warrant ahead of time.

This list would include many of the routine elements of undercover intelligence work, such as impersonating a criminal; fabricating documents, for example, to support such a character impersonation; or misdirecting an identified threat individual to a meeting with co-conspirators. Forcing judicial warrant conditions into suspect terror or intelligence investigations imposes serious new burdens on law enforcement and could very well compromise time-critical efforts to thwart terrorist attacks.

Part 5 of the proposed act is an important part that commits to clarifying disclosure and accountability provisions in the newly renamed security of Canada information disclosure act. This should see the end of departmental and agency intelligence silos, and a more effective sharing of information that is critical to threats to national security. We will see.

Part 6 attempts to bring greater coherence to the no-fly list, where children and adults get red-flagged as false positives because of names shared with threat-identified individuals. However, these improvements are very slight and imperfect. Thousands of Canadian families are still stuck in limbo because their names appear, or the name of a family member appears, on the no-fly list.

Part 7 is another section which we firmly believe seriously weakens public safety by minimizing certain terrorist activities. It removes the advocacy and promotion of terror as a criminal offence. It replaces it with what is characterized as a more targeted general counselling offence for terrorism offences, whether or not a specific terrorism offence is committed or a specific terrorism offence is counselled. As well, part 7 would make it harder for police to pre-emptively detain people without a criminal charge.

The power of making preventive arrests, a sometimes life-and-death tool for officers and operatives, is now limited to situations where such an arrest would be necessary to prevent terrorist activity. Under our previous Bill C-51, the threshold was that such an arrest would be likely to prevent terrorist activity.

The Conservative Party has always taken very seriously the safety of Canadians, as threats to this country's security have evolved and deepened in this age of international terror. We recognize the importance of updating our national security infrastructure and practices. We support the preamble of Bill C-59 as a worthy rationale to reducing the ability of courts to strike down convictions on improperly applied charter grounds.

We also strongly oppose, and I cannot say this too often, parts 4 and 7 as an unacceptable weakening of public safety, and the watering down of provisions in Bill C-51 that helped law enforcement officers and agencies to keep Canadians safe.

In conclusion, Bill C-59 is a complex bill, and it is certainly, by any measure, an omnibus bill. It would create three new acts, and it would make changes to five other existing acts.

As I said earlier, we in the official opposition reserve comment on your ruling, Mr. Speaker, in the fullness of time, and we hope it is a relatively short period of time, to make a decision on the NDP motion to separate.

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November 20th, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, one cannot help but look to the past to see how we got here today with this bill, Bill C-59, because it really comes from the framework of Bill C-51. It is one of the reasons New Democrats will be opposing this bill, just as we opposed Bill C-51. At least we had an honest debate with the Conservatives about our position on Bill C-51, whereas the Liberals said they had concerns but then voted for Bill C-51, then later ran on a platform to get rid of Bill C-51.

Now we are stuck with Bill C-59. Their objective is clearly to muddy the waters so much that nobody will be able to follow this outside of the House of Commons, aside from experts in security intelligence. People are having to follow House of Commons debates on a regular basis, which is very difficult to do when there are so many things happening.

There still is interest out there. The bottom line is whether the privacy of Canadians will become unhinged by national security issues that undermine our civil liberties. When I look at some of the perspectives of Conservative members on civil liberties, I am, quite frankly, surprised that in this case, with Bill C-59, they do not have more backbone to raise issues about that balance, especially given the fact that one of their members, who very much has a strong civil libertarian background, nearly became leader of their party.

I can say this much about Bill C-51. Civil liberties and privacy are essential for a modern and functioning democracy. One of the continuing concerns with Bill C-59 is the assembly and distribution of personal data. It is real. There are people, such as Maher Arar and others, whose lives have been turned upside down because their personal information was used in a way that exposed them, their families, their business and personal contacts, and the people in their lives. It was an organized decision by our government agencies, the RCMP and CSIS, to exchange information with foreign powers related to that personal, private information. As Bill C-59 goes to committee, the Privacy Commissioner has expressed those concerns.

There are several cases in Canadian history where this has been germane to the concern people have about their privacy. I would argue that it has become even more difficult for individuals because of the use of electronic information for everything from taxes, to banking, to social exchanges, to employment. It is not as if this information is captured and stored in a vault somewhere that has very little exposure to third parties. The reality is that there are breaches. Other governments are actively attempting to break through Canadian databases on a regular basis, even countries we supposedly have decent relationships with in terms of trade, commerce, and discourse. There are attempts to abuse Canadian privacy.

Numerous mistakes have been made, over decades, when Canadians' personal information has been released by accident. I point to one of the more interesting cases we have been successful in. It showed the malaise in government. It was when the Paul Martin administration of the Liberals outsourced data collection for our census to Lockheed Martin through a public-private partnership. Basically, the Canadian census data collection component was outsourced to an arms manufacturer, which was compiling our data at public expense, because we were paying for it. When we did the investigation, we found that the information was going to be compiled in the United States. That would have made that information susceptible to the USA Patriot Act, back in 2004 or 2006. That would have exposed all our Canadian data, if it was going to be leaving the country.

Thankfully, a lot of Canadians spoke out against that. First, they had personal issues related to an arms manufacturing company collecting their personal information, especially when that company was producing the Hellfire missile and landmine munitions, when Canada had signed international agreements on restricting the distribution of those things. They also felt that the privacy component became a practical element with it moving out of the country. Thankfully, that stopped, and we amended it at that time.

The Government of Canada had to pay more money to assemble that data and information in Canada, so it cost us more. What the Liberals were trying to do was export the jobs, ironically, outside the country. The vulnerability of the Canadian data we were paying for was out of the country, then we had to pay a premium to bring it back and keep it in the country. That practice has ceased. We recently had the innovation committee confirm that, when the census committee came before us.

With Bill C-59, I still have grave concerns about the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act. It appears that most of the changes are going to be cosmetic. The Privacy Commissioner has alluded to that as well. When CSIS and other government agencies have that information, when is it scrubbed when it is provided? When is it no longer used? When is it no longer stored? When can it potentially be exposed by accident or for a reason?

Bill C-59 would put several laws in place. I want to note that there was extensive public consultation on it. The reality is that Bill C-51 was criticized by civil liberty advocates in “Our Security, Our Rights: National Security Green Paper, 2016”. The public feedback we had from that review was related to people's personal privacy and how it would be used.

I want to make sure we are clear that this is not a mythological issue. It has actually been noted. On November 26, the Federal Court issued a ruling on CSIS bulk data collection. The electronic data of people over a 10-year period was clearly something that concerned Canadians.

Unfortunately, we have not come to the realization that Bill C-51 was a flawed bill from the get-go. It was not a bill New Democrats could support, and Bill C-59 would just put a mask over that bill.

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November 20th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank and commend the hon. member for Windsor West for his thoughtful speech. I certainly thank the New Democratic Party caucus for joining me in the 41st Parliament in opposing Bill C-51.

I think there have been substantial improvements made in Bill C-59. I think we would all agree with that, but I remain very concerned that the powers are overreaching for CSIS agents to seek a court order from a single judge that would allow a warrant for a constitutional breach. I have raised this in briefings we have had with officials. Officials claim that the language in Bill C-59 would mean that they could not get a warrant that violated the Constitution and the charter, but the language in the bill itself appears to negative that proposition. It appears that it would still allow CSIS agents to receive a warrant that would allow them to violate our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I know that I am diving into the details of the bill, but it would take a lot of study. Many sections are very much improved, and the government deserves commendation for those sections, but these are the ones that chill me to the bone in terms of how our democracy functions and whether we allow security agents to obtain a warrant to violate our Constitution.

I wonder if my friend for Windsor West has any comments.

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November 20th, 2017 / 5:20 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Windsor West for his speech.

I share many of his worries and concerns. For instance, in November 2016, the Federal Court issued a rather scathing decision on the fact that for 10 years, CSIS had been storing thousands of pieces of personal information on average, ordinary Canadians who were not even likely to be investigated and who posed no threat. The Liberal government decided not to appeal the Federal Court ruling. However, in Bill C-59, the Liberals are making legal what was ruled illegal by the Federal Court, namely storing personal information for very long periods of time on people who are not being investigated and who pose no threat to national security.

What are my colleague's thoughts on that?

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November 20th, 2017 / 5:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my turn to speak to Bill C-59, which deals with matters of national security. As we have heard in the speeches from the start, this is a rather imposing bill of 140 pages and nine chapters. It was introduced in June, and we recently learned from the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness that the government was going to do something somewhat unusual, namely to refer the bill to committee before second reading stage.

We have been treated to a host of reasons as to why. We are told that this would allow hon. members more flexibility to amend the bill. Before we get into the essence of the bill, let us just talk about the Liberal government's approach to amending legislation that has an impact on people's daily lives. I know that my colleagues across the way will be very interested to hear this. Since this bill has to do with national security, we can expect that everyone here agrees that it has an impact on the daily lives of all Canadians and that it is very important for them.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I would never suggest anyone in the House wants to do anything less than keep Canadians absolutely safe. We are all here to represent our constituents and our country, and we all certainly want what is best for our country. However, the government seems to be having some problems with the process and with governance. We have seen evidence of that in several cases, such as the electoral reform file, on which the government held coast-to-coast-to-coast consultations.

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November 20th, 2017 / 5:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Yes, Mr. Speaker, there are coasts everywhere. The government held endless consultations and created a website where people could find out what kind of voters, what kind of citizens they are. That website became something of a laughingstock across the country. Obviously the government proceeded without a real plan on that file.

In short, with regard to electoral reform, the government stood firm until, one day, the Prime Minister decided that everyone's opinions had been heard and that he was going to forget about electoral reform because the findings showed that it would not benefit the Liberals. That was all it took for the Liberals to decide not to move forward with electoral reform.

Let us now look at tax reform. In the middle of the summer, this government announced major changes in a notice that was sent to all Canadian taxpayers. In it, the Liberals announced changes to the tax rules. They figured that, if everything went well, those changes would be implemented in the fall without anyone even realizing it. However, Canadians saw what the Liberals were doing. Farmers and small business owners saw that the proposed changes were major ones that could have a significant impact on their finances and the survival of their companies, and so, of course, they protested. Given the public outcry, the government finally decided to back down. It decided to make small changes and to do away with the most damaging aspects of the reform.

If entrepreneurs, farmers, and producers had not spoken out, the bill would not have changed. The worst part was that the government was proud to announce that it would not hurt them, while the Liberals were the only ones who said it would hurt them. This just shows once again that they are improvising. This government is incapable of introducing legislation that is sound from the start, incapable of consulting Canadians properly, and incapable of listening to the members of the House to come up with a good bill or good regulations.

That is to say nothing of all the government's attempts over the past two years to change how the House operates. Everyone has heard about the Leader of the Government's famous discussion paper that proposed a new way of doing things here in the House.

Again, the government comes out with a paper. We all remember the infamous document from the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons who proposed a new way of doing things here in the House. That paper led to a discussion, but under a specific time frame and very specific rules. If we did not fall in line, the discussion would end. That is what the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons discussion paper plan looked like. Again, there was an outcry.

Everyone realized that the paper was worthless. The government had to back down again. Finally, minor changes were made to what the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons had proposed and as a result, this huge omnibus bill might be split into several parts depending on the Speaker's ruling. This illustrates once again that this government is incapable of taking a file, introducing it, and having it passed in accordance with the proper rules, which is the government's role.

As I said earlier, Bill C-59 is an omnibus bill. It is 140 pages long and has nine parts. It is a very large bill. Now, we get another surprise: the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness tells us that this bill will not be read at second reading because the Liberals are not too sure about what they are introducing. They are not sure that what they introduced is good. They want to send it to committee right away. This way, people can find the errors before we adopt the principle of a bill that someone might disagree with or that everyone might like. Since the government is not sure, it wants to do things differently and seek input one more time.

Perhaps there may not yet have been consultations on Bill C-59, but the government did hold consultations on the national security framework. This consultation touched on many elements in Bill C-59. It heard from 138 witnesses and 39 submissions were made. It was another coast-to-coast-to coast consultation. Today, the government is telling us that it has not consulted enough, that it is introducing a less-than-perfect bill, and that it wants to refer it to a committee before passing the bill in principle in the House. Where is the logic in that?

The Liberals were elected to form government. Unfortunately, after two years, the Liberals are incapable of acting as a government. They are incapable of governing. They are unable to govern when it counts, and when Canadians, farmers, small businesses, and even the functioning of the House are affected, and they are unable to serve as a government and to make the right decisions for all Canadians.

I am puzzled about how the government is proceeding on Bill C-59. What is the government's problem? By overdoing consultations and wanting to please everyone, the government is pleasing no one and cannot put together a viable bill.

Before I conclude, I want to come back to Bill C-59. This is a major bill. The previous government passed Bill C-51 to address the threat of terrorism. I have in my hands a list of every terrorist attack that has occurred worldwide since 2010. The information comes from Wikipedia, an occasionally reliable source. I compiled a list of the attacks. In 2017 alone, there have been 105 terrorist attacks worldwide. I calculated that in 2017 alone, terrorist attacks have claimed 2,236 lives. Attacks in 2017 account for just three pages of this massive compilation of terrorist attacks worldwide.

I do not want to list off all of these attacks. It makes for rather sombre reading, but what it clearly shows is that year after year, the number of attacks is not going down. It is going up. It is absolutely essential that the government take all necessary steps to protect Canadians from this wave of terrorist attacks, which affects not only Canada, but every country in the world. Unfortunately, this wave shows no signs of subsiding.

We are going to study Bill C-59. We are going to see how the Speaker rules on whether the bill should be divided into several versions for voting. We reserve comment on whether we will support the bill or not.

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November 20th, 2017 / 5:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I agree in part with what my colleague said, especially regarding Bill C-51. I would remind members that the Liberals were the second opposition party at the time. They supported Bill C-51. Today, they are trying to come up with a new version of Bill C-51, because they made promises in order to try to win votes. However, they are coming to the realization that Bill C-51 was not that bad after all. That is what is happening. That is why they are referring Bill C-59 to committee and trying all sorts of tricks to perhaps revert to Bill C-51, which was quite a good bill that guaranteed one thing that we all agree on: the security of Canadians against this wave of terrorists attacks around the world.

The Liberals supported Bill C-51 at the time. Today, they realize that they cannot do better. They are trying all kinds of tricks to revert to Bill C-51 without making it seem that way.

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November 20th, 2017 / 5:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. There are two parts in Bill C-59 that are rather problematic. I am talking about Part 4 and Part 7 that can effectively cause serious problems. It seems that the Liberal government is making it more difficult for law enforcement to prevent attacks on Canadian soil.

When there is knowledge of a possible attack, terrorist organizations are not going to do everything they can to get arrested. They are doing to do everything they can to stay under the radar, to make it difficult to be detected. At first blush, unfortunately it seems that Bill C-59 as currently worded will make things easier for terrorist organizations and make it more difficult for law enforcement to prevent this type of attack.

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November 20th, 2017 / 5:35 p.m.
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NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, thinking back to the 2015 general federal election, there were certainly few issues as contentious as Bill C-51, the so-called Anti-Terrorism Act. In my riding of Kootenay—Columbia, citizens came out en mass to protest in many communities, including Invermere, Revelstoke, Nelson, and in my home town of Cranbrook. I attended some of those rallies and found that the opposition cut across partisan and generational lines.

As I said at the time, the more people knew about Bill C-51, the more they disliked it. Letting Canadians know the details of the bill was not part of the former government's playbook. I remember my predecessor inviting the Attorney General to the riding. He was one of the co-authors of the bill, but rather than invite members of the public to ask questions or provide input, they held some private meetings and then left. Not even the local media were allowed to speak to the Attorney General at the time.

This is the kind of anti-democratic behaviour that helped Canadians decide to retire the Conservative government and elect a new one. Why did Canadians and the people in my riding of Kootenay—Columbia hate and fear the Anti-Terrorism Act so much? It was because it potentially criminalized activities like peaceful protests and picket lines, by giving police broad powers to breach Canadians' privacy. Many of my constituents believed it was clearly aimed not at terrorists, but at stopping democratic resistance to the Conservatives' priority projects such as pipelines. It helped to end 21 years of Conservative MPs in my riding in the corner of British Columbia.

The Liberal Party, which fully supported Bill C-51 when it was being debated and voted on, promised during the election to do better. The Liberals said they would repeal the worst parts of the bill. Here we are two years after the election and the government is just now getting around to addressing that terrible piece of legislation. Its response is insufficient.

The new legislation, Bill C-59, still allows the widespread sharing of Canadians' personal information on a national security list. It maintains a very broad definition of activities that the government claims will undermine the security of Canada, an issue that the Privacy Commissioner has flagged, and it does not ensure real-time oversight of the bulk collection of Canadians' private data.

What is worse is that the government is dealing with this legislation in an entirely undemocratic fashion, forcing the bill to committee, without second reading debate.

Despite their support for Bill C-51, the Liberals were elected on a promise to fix this terrible legislation. So far, they have fallen far short of doing so.

This goes on the lengthening list of broken promises. Let us look at the bill in detail.

In November 2016, the Federal Court issued a ruling on CSIS bulk data collection. CSIS illegally kept potentially revealing electronic data about people over a 10-year period. In a hard-hitting ruling, Justice Simon Noel said that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service breached its duty to inform the court of its data collection program, since the information was gathered using judicial warrants. CSIS should not have retained the information since it was not directly related to threats to the security of Canada.

Bill C-59 responds to the Federal Court ruling in the most concerning way for our privacy, enshrining bulk collection by CSIS of metadata containing private information of Canadians not relevant to investigations. That is right: rather than ordering CSIS to obey the law and stop storing Canadians' data illegally, the bill makes it legal for it to do so. The new bill does relatively little to roll back the extensive information-sharing powers Bill C-51 gave security agencies. The fact remains there is still too broad a definition as to what constitutes national security. The newly renamed security of Canada information disclosure act still permits departments to disclose far too much information in their pursuit of questionable security objectives.

Bill C-51 gave CSIS broad powers to reduce threats through conduct that threatens freedom of expression, public safety, and freedom of association, and it was ripe for abuse. The new legislation still provides CSIS with those powers, but limits them from including torture, detention, and serious destruction of property that would endanger a life.

It is good that the government would no longer have the right to torture its citizens, but the power CSIS maintains would be more appropriate to a totalitarian police state than to Canada. Bill C-59, like Bill C-51 before it, would make Canada a comfortable place for Big Brother.

The government will tell us that none of this is likely and that no powers would ever be abused, yet we already have examples where over-zealousness in the name of anti-terrorism has harmed Canadians. We have seen just this month taxpayers having to pay out settlements worth tens of millions of dollars to Canadians who were tortured overseas due to the complicit actions of the Canadian security services. We see hundreds of young children whose names are on the no-fly list, unable to accompany their families from one city to another because they have been banned, and the government has been unable to find a mechanism to review and correct the list. Apparently, the government is considering a new computer system to manage the no-fly list. Let us hope it works better than the Phoenix payroll system has.

Bill C-59 will not undo the damage that Bill C-51 created. It is a Band-Aid for a gaping wound. With my NDP colleagues, I will be opposing the motion to ram Bill C-59 through the democratic process, and I will join the chorus of Canadians calling for Bill C-51 to be repealed, not just tinkered with. Let me close with a quotation from Daniel Therrien, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, when he spoke before the access to information, privacy and ethics committee a year ago, November 22, 2016. He said:

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?

The answer from Canadians clearly is no. That is most certainly not a country we want, and we cannot and will not support Bill C-59.

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November 20th, 2017 / 5:45 p.m.
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NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, going back to 2015, it really was one of the most contentious issues that came forward during the election. People in my riding were concerned about too much unnecessary information being collected, and that the information and the act would be used to stop legal demonstrations. There was a great deal of concern about Bill C-51, which led to protests in a number of communities, not only in my riding but across Canada.

Constituents would like to see Bill C-51 completely withdrawn, not necessarily amended through Bill C-59 but repealed and, certainly, if not repealed entirely, then at least specific sections repealed that Canadians found to be most repugnant.