An Act respecting national security matters

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of June 20, 2018

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-59.

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 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)

June 20th, 2018 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

Ian Wright Director, Financial Crimes Governance and Operations, Department of Finance

Bill C-59 was SCISA, the ability to share information. You obviously have to talk to Public Safety or the lead for that piece of legislation, but our understanding is that the changes didn't limit it. I think it pulled one agency off, but it certainly did not impact FINTRAC or our ability to use SCISA to exchange information.

On the question on sanctions, that's more public information anyway. It's a listing that will come out through due process, and we'd have to talk to our Global Affairs colleagues, but I don't think it would be a SCISA type of national security threat issue.

June 20th, 2018 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. O'Toole raised the point that with Bill C-59 there are more hurdles now for departments to be able to share information. Does that work against the ability to have a consolidated list?

June 20th, 2018 / 1:15 p.m.
See context

Durham, CPC

Erin O'Toole

Let's leave aside FINTRAC, because one of the things security experts say is that siloing of information often leads to money laundering or terror financing. We see information sharing in the global community and, potentially from this hearing, financial information sharing between institutions, but we don't seem to trust the agencies of our own government.

Is there some reason you removed that ability in Bill C-59?

June 20th, 2018 / 1:15 p.m.
See context

Durham, CPC

Erin O'Toole

We've heard that our partners, the other countries that were at the French “No Money for Terror” conference, are enhancing their information sharing among government departments. Bill C-59, which passed this week, detracts from relevant information sharing. Why are we going in an opposite direction to our allies and partners in the G20?

June 20th, 2018 / 1:15 p.m.
See context

Durham, CPC

Erin O'Toole

It was a joint statement. I might be overstating it.

The reason I ask is that the first element coming out of that conference was a priority, and I'll read it to you:

(1) Further reinforcing the domestic legal and operational frameworks to collect, analyse and share information by national authorities

This week Bill C-59 passed and actually took away that information-sharing ability for relevant national security information with changes to the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, so we don't seem to be meeting the lofty goals of the conference in terms of terror financing.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare these elements carried.

The House has agreed to the entirety of Bill C-59, an act respecting national security matters at the third reading stage.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to order made Tuesday, May 29, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division at third reading of Bill C-59.

Pursuant to Standing Order 69.1, the first question is on parts 1 to 5 of the bill, as well as the title, the preamble, part 9 regarding the legislative review, and clauses 169 to 172 dealing with coming into force provisions.

The House resumed from June 18 consideration of the motion that Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters, be read the third time and passed.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

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

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

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

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Madam Speaker, I guess I am disappointed, because I remember that the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands was one of the few members in the last Parliament who was courageous enough to stand with New Democrats and fight against Bill C-51, even when public opinion polling initially said that something like 79% or 80% of the people wanted action in this area. Eventually, that tide turned, because people were not prepared to sacrifice their rights for this mythical improvement in security.

Yes, I agree that there is one significant improvement in Bill C-59, and that is the narrowing of the provisions around criminal terrorism speech to say that one has to actually counsel someone to commit a terrorist act. However, when we stack that up against all the other things from Bill C-51 that remain, it is a fundamental diminishment of this country to have our fundamental rights so limited.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 8:15 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I would say this to the hon. member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke. I remember the fight we had in the 41st Parliament with respect to Bill C-51, the so-called Anti-terrorism Act, which I believe made Canada much less safe. It is hard for me to actually vote for Bill C-59 now, especially when I hear his very good arguments.

However, I will tell him why I am going to vote for Bill C-59. I am very relieved to see improvements to what I thought were the thought-chill provisions in Bill C-51, the rules against the promotion of unexplained terrorism “in general”. There are big improvements to the no-fly list. However, there are not enough improvements, for my taste, to the ability of CSIS to take kinetic action. The big failure in Bill C-59 in front of us is the information sharing around what Canadians are doing with other governments.

The irony for me is that the Liberals voted for Bill C-51 in the 41st Parliament and voted against the destruction of environmental assessments in Bill C-38. Ironically, I think they have done a better job now of fixing the bill they voted for than of fixing the bill they voted against, at least as far as environmental assessments go. Therefore, I am voting against Bill C-69 on environmental assessments. However, I am voting for Bill C-59. I am influenced a lot by Professors Craig Forcese and Kent Roach, who overall think this is an improvement. I do too, overall. However, it does not fix everything Bill C-51 did to make us less safe.

I appreciate the member's thoughtful analysis, and I am going to vote for it, but with misgivings.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 8:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Madam Speaker, the question gets right at this question of the broad definition of national security Bill C-51 brought in and that Bill C-59 really maintains. It says in Bill C-59 that dissent and advocacy will be protected unless they are carried out in concert with other activities that are likely to challenge national security. Since for national security, critical infrastructure is included, if the current government is saying that the Kinder Morgan pipeline is a piece of critical infrastructure, is the right to protest and advocate against Kinder Morgan still protected under the Anti-terrorism Act? I would argue that it is not.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 8:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his well-researched speech. The reason I say that is that I have been listening to many of the speeches, and he is the one who actually highlighted all the differences between Bill C-51 and Bill C-59 and where attention needs to be paid.

He raised the issue of the national interest, which is the core concern with respect to Bill C-51. We now have a situation where the government claims that the purchase from Kinder Morgan of this 65-year-old pipeline is in the national interest. The former governor of the Bank of Canada stated that “people...are going to die in protesting...this [Trans-Mountain] pipeline.”

I would like the member to analyze that statement with respect to the situation we have vis-à-vis the national interest in the pipeline and Bill C-59.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 8:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Madam Speaker, certainly the hon. member and I did a lot of work together on opposite sides of Bill C-51. I will start by disagreeing with him that Bill C-51 is the gold standard of anything. What I have yet to see is anyone present the evidence.

It is very interesting that the Liberals had a good chance to do that when they presented Bill C-59 and to say that if they were going to keep major parts of Bill C-51, how they made us safer. Where is that report? That report is nowhere to be seen.

I do not believe it is a gold standard. I do not believe it made us safer. The hon. member fell once again into this idea that somehow giving up part of our rights will make us more secure. To me, that is a fundamental fallacy. Rights, freedoms, and security go together. I do not want to say hand in hand, because the government has devalued the currency of that phrase. However, I would say that we must do both. We must protect rights and freedoms. Full rights and freedoms do not make us less secure. They make us more secure and more united as a country.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 7:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to speak against Bill C-59 at third reading. Unfortunately, it is yet another example of the Liberals breaking an election promise, only this time it is disguised as promise keeping.

In the climate of fear after the attacks on Parliament Hill and in St. Jean in 2014, the Conservative government brought forward Bill C-51. I heard a speech a little earlier from the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, and he remembers things slightly different than I. The difference is that I was in the public safety committee and he, as the minister, was not there. He said that there was a great clamour for new laws to meet this challenge of terrorism. I certainly did not hear that in committee. What I heard repeatedly from law enforcement and security officials coming before us was that they had not been given enough resources to do the basic enforcement work they needed to do to keep Canadians safe from terrorism.

However, when the Conservatives finally managed to pass their Anti-terrorism Act, they somehow managed to infringe our civil liberties without making us any safer.

At that time, the New Democrats remained firm in our conviction that it would be a mistake to sacrifice our freedoms in the name of defending them. Bill C-51 was supported by the Liberals, who hedged their bets with a promise to fix what they called “its problematic elements” later if they were elected. Once they were elected in 2015, that determination to fix Bill C-51 seemed to wane. That is why in September of 2016, I introduced Bill C-303, a private member's bill to repeal Bill C-51 in its entirety.

Some in the House at that time questioned why I introduced a private member's bill since I knew it would not come forward for a vote. In fact, this was an attempt to get the debate started, as the Liberals had already kept the public waiting for a year at that point. The New Democrats were saying, “You promised a bill. Well, here's our bill. It's very simple. Repeal all of C-51.”

Now, after more than two years and extensive consultations, we have this version of Bill C-59 before us, which does not repeal Bill C-51 and fails to fix most of the major problems of Bill C-51, it actually introduces new threats to our privacy and rights.

Let me start with the things that were described, even by the Liberals, as problematic, and remain unfixed in Bill C-59 as it stands before us.

First, there is the definition of “national security” in the Anti-terrorism Act that remains all too broad, despite some improvements in Bill C-59. Bill C-59 does narrow the definition of criminal terrorism speech, which Bill C-51 defined as “knowingly advocates or promotes the commission of terrorism offences in general”. That is a problematic definition. Bill C-59 changes the Criminal Code wording to “counsels another person to commit a terrorism offence”. Certainly, that better captures the problem we are trying to get at in the Criminal Code. There is plenty of existing case law around what qualifies as counselling someone to commit an offence. Therefore, that is much better than it was.

Then the government went on to add a clause that purports to protect advocacy and protest from being captured in the Anti-terrorism Act. However, that statement is qualified with an addition that says it will be protected unless the dissent and advocacy are carried out in conjunction with activities that undermine the security of Canada. It completes the circle. It takes us right back to that general definition.

The only broad definition of national security specifically in Bill C-51 included threats to critical infrastructure. Therefore, this still raises the spectre of the current government or any other government using national security powers against protesters against things like the pipeline formerly known as Kinder Morgan.

The second problem Bill C-59 fails to fix is that of the broad data collection information sharing authorized by Bill C-51, and in fact maintained in Bill C-59. This continues to threaten Canadians' basic privacy rights. Information and privacy commissioners continue to point out that the basis of our privacy law is that information can only be used for the purposes for which it is collected. Bill C-51 and Bill C-59 drive a big wedge in that important protection of our privacy rights.

Bill C-51 allowed sharing information between agencies and with foreign governments about national security under this new broad definition which I just talked about. Therefore, it is not just about terrorism and violence, but a much broader range of things the government could collect and share information on. Most critics would say Bill C-59, while it has tweaked these provisions, has not actually fixed them, and changing the terminology from “information sharing” to “information disclosure” is more akin to a sleight of hand than an actual reform of its provisions.

The third problem that remains are those powers that Bill C-51 granted to CSIS to act in secret to counter threats. This new proactive power granted to CSIS by Bill C-51 is especially troubling precisely because CSIS activities are secret and sometimes include the right to break the law. Once again, what we have done is returned to the very origins of CSIS. In other words, when the RCMP was both the investigatory and the enforcement agency, we ran into problems in the area of national security, so CSIS was created. Therefore, what we have done is return right back to that problematic situation of the 1970s, only this time it is CSIS that will be doing the investigating and then actively or proactively countering those threats. We have recreated a problem that CSIS was supposed to solve.

Bill C-59 also maintains the overly narrow list of prohibitions that are placed on those CSIS activities. CSIS can do pretty much anything short of committing bodily harm, murder, or the perversion of the course of democracy or justice. However, it is still problematic that neither justice nor democracy are actually defined in the act. Therefore, this would give CSIS powers that I would argue are fundamentally incompatible with a free and democratic society.

The Liberal change would require that those activities must be consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That sounds good on its face, except that these activities are exempt from scrutiny because they are secret. Who decides whether they might potentially violate the charter of rights? It is not a judge, because this is not oversight. There is no oversight here. This is the government deciding whether it should go to the judge and request oversight. Therefore, if the government does not think it is a violation of the charter of rights, it goes ahead and authorizes the CSIS activities. Again, this is a fundamental problem in a democracy.

The fourth problem is that Bill C-59 still fails to include an absolute prohibition on the use of information derived from torture. The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan made some eloquent statements on this with which I agree. What we have is the government saying that now it has included a cabinet directive on torture in Bill C-59, which gives the cabinet directive to force of law. The cabinet directive already has the force of law, so it absolutely changes nothing about this.

However, even worse, there is no absolute prohibition in that cabinet directive on the use of torture-implicated information. Instead, the prohibition says that information from torture can be used in some circumstances, and then it sets a very low threshold for when we can actually use information derived from fundamental rights violations. Not only is this morally repugnant, most likely unconstitutional, but it also gives us information that is notoriously unreliable. People who are being tortured will say precisely what they think the torturer wants them to say to stop the torture.

Finally, Bill C-59 would not do one of the things it could have done, and that is create a review agency for the CBSA. The CBSA remains without an independent review and complaints mechanism. It is one of our only law enforcement or security agencies that has no direct review agency. Yes, the new national security intelligence review agency will have some responsibility over the CBSA, but only in terms of national security questions, not in terms of its basic day-to-day operations.

We have seen quite often that the activities carried out by border agencies have a major impact on fundamental rights of people. We can look at the United States right now and see what its border agency is doing in the separation of parents and children. Therefore, it is a concern that there is no place in Canada, if we have a complaint about what CBSA has done, to file that complaint except in a court of law, which requires information, resources, and all kinds of other things that are unlikely to be available to those people who need to make those complaints.

The Liberals will tell us that there are some areas where they have already acted outside of Bill C-59, and we have just heard the member for Winnipeg North talk about Bill C-22, which established the national security review committee of parliamentarians.

The New Democrats feel that this is a worthwhile first step toward fixing some of the long-standing weaknesses in our national security arrangements, but it is still only a review agency, still only an agency making recommendations. It is not an oversight agency that makes decisions in real time about what can be done and make binding orders about what changes have to be made.

The government rejected New Democrat amendments on the bill, amendments which would have allowed the committee to be more independent from the government. It would have allowed it to be more transparent in its public reporting and would have given it better integration with existing review bodies.

The other area the Liberals claim they have already acted on is the no-fly list. It was interesting that the minister today in his speech, opening the third reading debate, claimed that the government was on its way to fixing the no-fly list, not that it had actually fixed the no-fly list. Canada still lacks an effective redress system for travellers unintentionally flagged on the no-fly list. I have quite often heard members on the government side say that no one is denied boarding as a result of this. I could give them the names of people who have been denied boarding. It has disrupted their business activities. It has disrupted things like family reunions. All too often we end up with kids on the no-fly list. Their names happen to be Muslim-sounding or Arabic-sounding or whatever presumptions people make and they names happen to be somewhat like someone else already on the list.

The group of no-fly list kids' parents have been demanding that we get some effective measures in place right away to stop the constant harassment they face for no reason at all. The fact that we still have not fixed this problem raises real questions about charter right guarantees of equality, which are supposed to be protected by law in our country.

Not only does Bill C-59 fail to correct the problems in Bill C-51, it goes on to create two new threats to fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadians, once again, without any evidence that these measures will make it safer.

Bill C-59 proposes to immediately expand the Communications Security Establishment Canada's mandate beyond just information gathering, and it creates an opportunity for CSE to collect information on Canadians which would normally be prohibited.

Just like we are giving CSIS the ability to not just collect information but to respond to threats, now we are saying that the Communications Security Establishment Canada should not just collect information, but it should be able to conduct what the government calls defensive cyber operations and active cyber operations.

Bill C-59 provides an overly broad list of purposes and targets for these active cyber operations. It says that activities could be carried out to “degrade, disrupt, influence, respond to or interfere with the capabilities, intentions or activities of a foreign individual, state, organization or terrorist group as they relate to international affairs, defence or security.” Imagine anything that is not covered there. That is about as broad as the provision could be written.

CSE would also be allowed to do “anything that is reasonably necessary to maintain the covert nature of the activity.” Let us think about that when it comes to oversight and review of its activities. In my mind that is an invitation for it to obscure or withhold information from review agencies.

These new CSE powers are being expanded without adequate oversight. Once again, there is no independent oversight, only “after the fact” review. To proceed in this case, it does not require a warrant from a court, but only permission from the Minister of National Defence, if the activities are to be domestic based, or from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, if the activities are to be conducted abroad.

These new, active, proactive measures to combat a whole list and series of threats is one problem. The other is while Bill C-59 says that there is a still a prohibition on the Canadian Security Establishment collecting information on Canadians, we should allow for what it calls “incidental” acquisition of information relating to Canadians or persons in Canada. This means that in situations where the information was not deliberately sought, a person's private data could still be captured by CSE and retained and used. The problem remains that this incidental collecting, which is called research by the government and mass surveillance by its critics, remains very much a part of Bill C-59.

Both of these new powers are a bit disturbing, when the Liberal promise was to fix the problematic provisions in Bill C-51, not add to them. The changes introduced for Bill C-51 in itself are minor. The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan talked about the changes not being particularly effective. I have to agree with him. I do not think they were designed to be effective. They are unlikely to head off the constitutional challenges to Bill C-51 already in place by organizations such as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Those constitutional challenges will proceed, and I believe that they will succeed.

What works best in terrorism cases? Again, when I was the New Democrats' public safety critic sitting on the public safety committee when Bill C-51 had its hearings, we heard literally dozens and dozens of witnesses who almost all said the same thing: it is old-fashioned police work on the front line that solves or prevents terrorism. For that, we need resources, and we need to focus the resources on enforcement activities at the front end.

What did we see from the Conservatives when they were in power? There were actual cutbacks in the budgets of the RCMP, the CBSA, and CSIS. The whole time they were in power and they were worried about terrorism, they were denying the basic resources that were needed.

What have the Liberals done since they came back to power? They have actually added some resources to all of those agencies, but not for the terrorism investigation and enforcement activities. They have added them for all kinds of other things they are interested in but not the areas that would actually make a difference.

We have heard quite often in this House, and we have heard some of it again in this debate, that what we are talking about is the need to balance or trade off rights against security. New Democrats have argued very consistently, in the previous Parliament and in this Parliament, that there is no need to trade our rights for security. The need to balance is a false need. Why would we give up our rights and argue that in doing so, we are actually protecting them? This is not logical. In fact, it is the responsibility of our government to provide both protection of our fundamental rights and protection against threats.

The Liberals again will tell us that the promise is kept. What I am here to tell members is that I do not see it in this bill. I see a lot of attempts to confuse and hide what they are really doing, which is to hide the fundamental support they still have for what was the essence of Bill C-51. That was to restrict the rights and freedoms of Canadians in the name of national security. The New Democrats reject that false game. Therefore, we will be voting against this bill at third reading.