Madam Speaker, I rise this morning to speak to Bill C-59, an omnibus bill that is over 260 pages long and has nine major parts. I listened to the minister's speech, which addressed the Senate amendments, but I would first like to focus on Bill C-59 itself.
As I have been saying from the outset, the problem is that most parts of Bill C-59 are administrative in nature. They make changes to the various intelligence and communications agencies. That is fine, but the main goal of Bill C-59 was to respond to Bill C-51, which was implemented by the Conservatives following the attacks that took place here in Ottawa. Bill C-51 was specifically designed to counter terrorism and ensure that anyone seeking to commit terrorist acts in Canada was stopped to avert disaster.
Overall, the omnibus bill has some parts that are fine. They contain the sort of changes that need to be made from time to time. However, other parts are very administratively heavy and will be very costly for the public purse. Essentially, this is a bill on national security. The public expects the government to protect people properly and ensure that the offenders and would-be terrorists of this world are stopped.
Despite what the minister says, we believe that Bill C-59 limits CSIS's ability to reduce terrorist threats. It also limits the departments' ability to share information in order to protect national security. It removes the offence of advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences in general and raises the threshold for obtaining terrorism peace bonds and recognizance with conditions.
At the end of the day, Bill C-59 is going to make life difficult for CSIS agents and telecommunications services people. The bill makes it harder to exchange information. It will once again clog up a system that is already burdensome. People working on the ground every day to ensure Canada's security and safety will be under even more restrictions, which will prevent them from doing their jobs.
Here is a snapshot of the nine parts. Part 1 establishes the national security and intelligence review agency.
Part 2 enacts the intelligence commissioner act. It deals with everything pertaining to the commissioner and the various tasks he or she will have, but abolishes the position of the Commissioner of the Communications Security Establishment and provides for that commissioner to become the intelligence commissioner. It transfers the employees of the former commissioner to the office of the new commissioner and makes related and consequential amendments to other acts. In other words, it shuffles things around.
Part 3 enacts the Communications Security Establishment act. CSE's new mandate includes the ability to conduct preventive attacks against threats in addition to its role in signals intelligence and cyber defence. We really do not have a problem with that, provided it remains effective. That is an important point.
Part 4 amends the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act. It changes the threat reduction powers by limiting them to seven types of measures, one of which gives rise to the issue of whether non-invasive actions require a warrant. The measure in question is described as interfering with the movement of any person. This could mean that a CSIS officer requires a warrant to give misleading information to someone on the way to meeting with co-conspirators.
During operations, officers will sometimes provide individuals with false information to be passed on to those organizing terrorist or other plots. That is one of the work methods used in the field. Henceforth, warrants will have to be obtained, making the work more complicated. The officers will have to spend more time in the office doing paperwork and submitting applications instead of participating in operations.
Part 5 amends the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, which was enacted by the Conservative government's Bill C-51. Individuals and privacy groups were unhappy that government institutions could, on their own initiative or at the request of another institution, share information on activities that undermine the security of Canada. Bill C-51 was criticized for permitting the sharing of citizens' personal information.
Although Bill C-59 maintains part of the departments' ability to share information, it is much more restrictive. This means that the departments operate in silos, which was harshly criticized by the national security experts who testified.
Part 6 is the most positive part, and we fully support it. This part deals with the Secure Air Travel Act and the problems with the no-fly list. When travellers have the same name as a terrorist, they encounter major problems, especially when it happens to children and they are not allowed to travel. This part will help fix this problem, and we fully support it.
Part 7 amends the Criminal Code by changing the offence of advocating or promoting terrorism offences in general to one of counselling the commission of a terrorism offence, which carries a maximum sentence of five years.
I will read the next part, which does not pose any problems:
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.
Finally, here is the last part:
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.
These are additional administrative measures.
In short, of the nine parts of Bill C-59, we fully support part 6 on the no-fly list. The other parts contain a lot administrative provisions that will make the system more cumbersome. Part 7 is the most problematic.
We believe that the Prime Minister and the minister are weakening Canada's national security agencies and their ability to keep Canadians safe. This legislative measure will make it more difficult for law enforcement and security agencies to prevent attacks on Canadian soil because it takes away their authority to counter threats. The information silos this bill will create within our federal agencies are dangerous and foolish. Rather than countering radicalization, the Liberals are creating loopholes that could be exploited by those who want to radicalize our young people.
The Conservatives take the safety of Canadians very seriously. That is why the previous government brought Canada's national security laws into the 21st century and aligned them with those of our allies. While all of the Five Eyes allies are taking measures to strengthen national security, this government is bringing in legislation that will eliminate our intelligence service's ability to reduce terrorist threats. The Liberals' irresponsible approach will put Canadians' safety at risk.
I was pleased with the four amendments proposed by the senators, who also took the time to work on Bill C-59 and hear witnesses. We know that the independent Liberals have a majority in the the Senate, so we would not normally expect to see amendments that reflect the Conservatives' views. This time, however, we think all four amendments are excellent and deserve our support. We waited for the government's response.
Two of the amendments had been proposed by me and my Conservative colleagues on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, but the Liberals had rejected them. One of them sought to clarify the definition of the phrase “counselling commission of terrorism offence”. This short phrase really embodies the problem we have with Bill C-59. For the benefit of our viewers, I would like to quote the specific wording.
The bill would amend the Criminal Code by changing the following existing definition:
Every person who...knowingly instructs, directly or indirectly, any person to commit [a terrorist] offence...is guilty....
The bill would change it to the following:
Every person who counsels another person to commit a terrorism offence...is guilty....
What is the Liberals' real goal here, if not to just strike out the Conservative government's Bill C-51 so they can say they made a change?
Did they make this change with the intention of improving the legislation? No. Even the senators advised the government to preserve the essence of the definition set out in the Conservatives' Bill C-51.
The minister says that in 2015, when Bill C-51 was introduced by the Conservative government, no charges were ever laid. Is it not possible that no charges were laid because people got scared and decided not to run any risks, in light of the legislation and resources that were in place, as well as the enforcement capability?
Maybe that was why nothing happened. Does watering down and changing this—