An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

In committee (House), as of June 12, 2019

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-98.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act to, among other things, rename the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the Public Complaints and Review Commission. It also amends the Canada Border Services Agency Act to, among other things, grant to that Commission powers, duties and functions in relation to the Canada Border Services Agency, including the power to conduct a review of the activities of that Agency and to investigate complaints concerning the conduct of any of that Agency’s officers or employees. It also makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

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.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2019 / 6:45 p.m.
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Green

Paul Manly Green Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a great honour to get up and speak to this important issue. I would like to start by recognizing the voters in Nanaimo—Ladysmith and thank them for seeing fit to elect me; and my team, my volunteers and my family, for supporting me through this process. This is my first time to have an opportunity to speak in Parliament. This is an interesting bill to get up and speak to.

My sister is a police officer. She has served some 23 or 24 years with the Ontario Provincial Police. She knows that when police are caught doing things they should not be doing it reflects poorly on all police officers. We need to respect the work that our men and women in uniform do: members of our armed forces, members of our police forces and members of the Canada Border Services Agency. It is very important to have oversight of these bodies, so that when there are legitimate complaints from citizens, they do not taint an organization.

I have just been reading a news article about a woman who was strip-searched coming into Canada and treated very poorly. There are many cases like this. When we cross the border, we enter a legal no man's land where we have no rights and we must do what we are told. When we are asked to hand over our cellphone and computer and give over the passwords, we are giving away some of our most personal information and letting people dig into our lives. When people are disrespected in this process, they need a proper way to complain about how they have been treated.

Bill C-98 would create an independent review and complaints mechanism for CBSA. This is very important. The objective is to promote public confidence in the system and for the employees. Those employees deserve to have confidence in their work and what they do. They deserve confidence and they deserve the respect of the public. The existing Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP would assume responsibility for review and complaints for the CBSA as well. It would be renamed as the public complaints and review commission, and be divided into RCMP units and a CBSA unit with similar powers, duties and functions and some modifications.

Why do we need this bill? Why do we need this oversight body? The CBSA is the only federal law-enforcement agency without an oversight body. It holds significant powers, including to detain, search, use firearms, arrest non-citizens without a warrant and conduct deportations.

We had a case in which the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands had to defend an indigenous man who was handcuffed, detained and taken away from his home during Christmas because he had an issue with his citizenship. He had been a resident of Penelakut Island and he was an indigenous person who has rights across the border. Indigenous communities and first nations in some cases do not recognize the border because the border is a false line that runs through their territories. For this person to be treated in this way, being bound, detained and forced from his home in this ruthless way, was highly problematic. It is important to have a complaints commission and somebody to review these kinds of cases and look at the conduct of the officers who were involved.

It is reported that the CBSA investigated over 1,200 allegations of staff misconduct between January 2016 and mid-2018. The allegations included sexual assault, criminal association and harassment. At least 14 people have died in custody since 2000. Those are incredible statistics, and a good reason why we need some oversight over this agency.

The public complaints commission would respond to a review conducted as a result of PMB S-205 in the 42nd Parliament, and the 2015 Senate report, “Vigilance, Accountability and Security at Canada's Borders”.

In the fall of 2016, the Minister of Public Safety announced the government's intention to address gaps in the CBSA's framework for external accountability, a feature already present in countries like the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and France.

I know we are getting late in this Parliament and we are early in the stages of this bill, but I think it is very important that we work on getting this through so that we can pass it before the House rises so there would be proper oversight of the Canada Border Services Agency. Then people would have a process to go through where they would have confidence, and other members of the CBSA would know there is a way for people who are bad apples in the system to have proper oversight over the kinds of actions they have taken, and the citizens of this country and the people travelling here can be confident that they will be treated with respect and dignity at our borders.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2019 / 6:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Madam Speaker, I will continue with the public safety minister's comment at committee:

[T]he government is launching, almost immediately, a public consultation process on our national security framework that will touch directly on the subject matter of this bill, and I need that consultation before I can commit to specific legislation.

Well, that was almost three years ago. To say that the bill is late would obviously be an understatement. It has taken the minister over three years to bring forward this legislation. That is quite a long time for a minister who said he was already working on something in 2016.

In keeping with his recent history on consultations, there appears to have been little or no external consultation in preparation for the bill. Hopefully, at committee, the government will be able to produce at least one group or organization outside of the government that will endorse the legislation. However, I am not holding my breath.

The government even hired a former clerk of the Privy Council to conduct an independent report. Mel Cappe conducted a review and provided his recommendations in June 2017. It was only because of an access to information request by CBC News that Parliament even knows of this report.

A CBC News article noted:

The June 2017 report by former Privy Council Office chief Mel Cappe, now a professor at the University of Toronto, was obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act....

[A] spokesman for [the] Public Safety Minister...would not comment directly on Cappe’s recommendations, but said the government is working on legislation to create an “appropriate mechanism” to review CBSA officer conduct and handle complaints.

The proposed body would roll in existing powers of the civilian review and complaints commission for the RCMP.

The government and the minister had the recommendations two years ago, yet they are bringing this forward at the last minute. It appears to be an afterthought. Again, in February of this year, the minister said that they continue to work as fast as they can to bring forward legislation on oversight for the CBSA.

Perhaps the Liberal government was just distracted by its many self-inflicted wounds. It created many challenges for Canadians, and now it is tabling legislation in the 11th hour that deals with real issues and asking parliamentarians to make up for the government's distraction and lack of focus on things that matter to Canada, Canadians and our democracy. These are things like public safety, national security, rural crime, trade, energy policies and lower taxes.

There is an impact to mismanagement and bad decision-making. The Liberals' incompetence has had a trickle-down effect that is felt at every border crossing and also across many parts of the country.

We know that RCMP officers had to be deployed and dedicated to dealing with illegal border crossings. When the Liberals set up a facility to act as a border crossing in Lacolle, Quebec, RCMP officers were there covering people entering into Canada. Those RCMP officers were not commissioned that day. They were pulled from details across the country. They were pulled from monitoring returned ISIS fighters and from monitoring and tackling organized crime. They were taken and redeployed, most likely, from rural detachments across the country. We know that in my province of Alberta, the RCMP is short-staffed by nearly 300 officers. It is not a surprise, then, that there was a rise in rural crime while this was going on. Rural crime is now rising faster than urban crime.

However, it is not just the RCMP that has been impacted by the mismanagement at the border. It is also border officers, who will have the added oversight created through Bill C-98.

CBSA officers told me and many other MPs about more shifts and about workers being transferred to Manitoba and Quebec. The media reported that students were taking the place of full-time, trained border officers at Pearson airport. This is the largest airport in Canada, and the impacts of having untrained and inexperienced officers monitoring potentially the top spot for smuggling and transfer of illegal goods are staggering.

We have a serious issue in Canada at our borders, one that is getting worse. We know from testimony given during the committee's study of Bill C-71 that the vast majority of illegal firearms come from the U.S. They are smuggled in. At the guns and gangs summit, the RCMP showed all of Canada pictures of firearms being smuggled in as part of other packages. The minister's own department is saying there is a problem with smuggled goods, contraband tobacco and drugs coming across our borders.

Rather than actually protect Canadians, we are looking into oversight. Do not get me wrong. Oversight is good, but it is not the most pressing issue of the day.

The media is now reporting that because of the Liberals' decision to lift visas, there are many harmful and potentially dangerous criminals now operating in our country. This comes on the heels of reports that there are record-high numbers of ordered deportations of people who are a security threat. There were 25 in 2017. There are also record-low removals. Deportations were about or above 12,000 to 15,000 per year from 2010 to 2015, but that is not what we are seeing now. The Liberals, even with tens of thousands of people entering Canada illegally, are averaging half of that.

We know that the CBSA is not ignoring these issues and security threats. It just lacks the resources, which are now dedicated to maintaining an illegal border crossing and monitoring tens of thousands more people.

This failure is not just my opinion. It is the opinion of many Canadians.

A Calgary Herald headline from last August read, “Confidence in Trudeau's handling of immigration is gone”. The Toronto Sun, on May 29 of this year, wrote, “AG report shows federal asylum processing system a mess”. Another reads, “Auditor General Calls out Liberal Failures”. The news headlines go on and on.

This is not something the minister did when he implemented reforms in Bill C-59, the national security reforms. Under that bill, there would be three oversight agencies for our national security and intelligence teams: the new commissioner of intelligence, with expanded oversight of CSIS and CSE; the new national security and intelligence review agency, and with Bill C-22, the new parliamentary committee. This is in addition to the Prime Minister's national security adviser and the deputy ministers of National Defence, Foreign Affairs and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

Oversight can be a good thing. Often, because of human nature, knowing it is there acts as a deterrent. From my career, knowing that police are nearby or ready to respond can deter criminals, and knowing that someone will review claims of misconduct will add credibility to an already reputable agency, the CBSA.

It is probably too bad that this was not done earlier, because it could have gone through the House and the Senate quite easily. It could have been a law for a year or two already, perhaps even more. Sadly, the late tabling of the bill seems to make it a near certainty that if it reaches the Senate, it might be caught in the backlog of legislation there.

The House and the committee can and should give the bill a great deal of scrutiny. While the idea seems sound, and the model is better than in other legislation, I am wary of anything the government does on borders. It has not managed our borders well and has not been up front with the House or Canadians about that. In 2017, the Liberals told us that there was nothing to worry about, with tens of thousands of people crossing our borders illegally. They said they did not need any new resources, security was going well and everything was fine.

Well, the reality was that security was being cut to deal with the volume, provinces and cities were drowning in costs and overflowing shelters, border and RCMP agencies were stretched and refugee screenings were backing up. According to the ministers, everything was fine. Then, in the budget, came new funding, and in the next budget, and in the one after that. Billions in spending is now on the books, including for the RCMP, the CBSA and the Immigration and Refugee Board.

What should we scrutinize? For one, I think we should make sure to hear from those people impacted by this decision, such as front-line RCMP and CBSA officers who will be subject to these evaluations.

A CBC article had this to say:

The union representing border officers has heard little about the proposal and was not consulted on the bill. Jean-Pierre Fortin, national president of the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU), said the president of the CBSA also was left in the dark and could not inform the union of any details of the legislation.

How reliable is legislation when the agency it would actually impact and involve was left out of the loop?

It seems odd that the Liberals would appoint one union, Unifor, to administer a $600-million media bailout fund just after they announce a campaign against Conservatives, and, yet, the border services officers union is not even consulted about legislation that impacts it. I would hope that consultations are not dependent on political donations and participation.

That is why Parliament should be careful about who sits on this new agency. We do not need more activists; we need experienced professionals. We need subject matter experts. We need people with management expertise. We need to make sure that the people who work on these review organizations are appropriately skilled and resourced to do their work. We need to make sure that frivolous cases do not tie up resources, and that officers do not have frivolous and vexatious claims hanging over the heads.

We need to make sure that Canadians do not need to hire lawyers to get access to the complaints commission and its process.

We need to make sure that the minister and his staff, and other staffing leaders across the public safety spectrum cannot get their hands inside the processes and decisions of these bodies. We need the agency to have transparent, clear processes and systems that are fair to applicants and defendants alike. We need to make sure that these processes do not eat away resources from two agencies that are already strapped for bodies.

I hope there is time to do this right. I hope there is the appropriate time to hear from all the relevant witnesses, that legal advice is obtained, and that we have the appropriate time to draft changes, changes that, based on the minister's track record, are almost certainly going to be needed.

As the House begins its work on this legislation, I trust the minister and his staff would not be directing the chair of the public safety committee to meet their scripted timeline, which seems a little difficult to be done now with only a week remaining. Knowing that the chair is a scrupulous and honoured individual, he certainly would not suggest that legislation needs to be finished before we can hear the appropriate testimony.

There is a lot of trust and faith needed for the House to work well on legislation like this and many other pieces, trust that is built through honest answers to legitimate questions, trust that is reinforced by following integrity and the need to get it right, rather than the need to just be right.

I hope, perhaps just once in this legislative session, we could see the government try to broker such trust on Bill C-98, but I will not hold my breath.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2019 / 6:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege, as always, to rise in the House and speak to legislation. As we near the end of this parliamentary session, one that precedes an election, we really should be wrapping up work rather than starting new work, as we all know.

Bill C-98 proposes to repurpose and rename the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP to the “Public Complaints and Review Commission” and expand its mandate to review both the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency.

In 2017, I began working as a member of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. In studies on the border agency and when the agency came up in discussions on another bill, Bill C-21, the issue of oversight and complaints was discussed. Professor Wesley Wark, from the University of Ottawa, who was previously a special adviser to the president of the Canadian border security agency said:

...the committee should encourage the government to finalize its plans for an independent complaints mechanism for CBSA. There have been discussions under way about this for some considerable time now.

We were told that the minister already had a plan back then, was already dealing with it and that we did not need to. During his appearance at the Senate committee regarding the border security's oversight, the minister said:

The CBSA, however, does not have independent review of officer conduct, and that is a gap that definitely needs to be addressed....

Mr. Chair, while I agree absolutely with the spirit behind Bill S-205, I cannot support its detail at this time for—

The House resumed from May 29 consideration of the motion that Bill C-98, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Public SafetyOral Questions

June 10th, 2019 / 3:05 p.m.
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Kanata—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, all allegations of this nature are taken very, very seriously. The minister is aware of this file. We are committed to ensuring that border services earn and deserve the trust of Canadians. We have put $24 million into a civilian review and complaints commission to handle these kinds of specific complaints and there is legislation. We hope that all members will work with us to get Bill C-98 passed.

Public SafetyOral Questions

June 10th, 2019 / 3:05 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Border Services Agency is still the only public safety agency in Canada that does not have an external review process.

CBC reported that a Canadian woman, Jill Knapp, went through a traumatizing experience because of the CBSA.

For years, I have asked the minister to keep his promise and table legislation to correct this. Bill C-98 is too little, too late and another broken promise.

Why did the minister wait until the eleventh hour before tabling a bill that would allow proper scrutiny of CBSA and allow us to protect Canadians' rights?

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 7th, 2019 / 12:25 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today.

I ask for the indulgence of the House and I hope no one will get up on a point of order on this, but because I am making a speech on a specific day, I did want to shout out to two of my biggest supporters.

The first is to my wife Chantale, whose birthday is today. I want to wish her a happy birthday. Even bigger news is that we are expecting a baby at the end of July. I want to shout out the fact that she has been working very hard at her own job, which is obviously a very exhausting thing, and so the patience she has for my uncomparable fatigue certainly is something that I really do thank her for and love her very much for.

I do not want to create any jealousy in the household, so I certainly want to give a shout-out to her daughter and our daughter Lydia, who is also a big supporter of mine. We are a threesome, and as I said at my wedding last year, I had the luck of falling in love twice. I wanted to take this opportunity, not knowing whether I will have another one before the election, to shout out to them and tell them how much I love them.

I thank my colleagues for their warm thoughts that they have shared with me.

On a more serious note, I would like to talk about the Senate amendments to Bill C-59. More specifically, I would like to talk about the process per se and then come back to certain aspects of Bill C-59, particularly those about which I raised questions with the minister—questions that have yet to be answered properly, if at all.

I want to begin by touching on a more timely issue related to a bill that is currently before the House, Bill C-98. This bill will give more authority to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP so that it also covers the Canada Border Services Agency. That is important because we have been talking for a long time about how the CBSA, the only agency that has a role to play in our national security, still does not have a body whose sole function is to review its operations.

Of course, there is the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, which was created by Bill C-22, and there will soon be a committee created by Bill C-59 that will affect the CBSA, but only with regard to its national security related activities.

I am talking about a committee whose sole responsibility would be to review the activities of the Canada Border Services Agency and to handle internal complaints, such as the allegations of harassment that have been reported in the media in recent years, or complaints that Muslim citizens may make about profiling.

It is very important that there be some oversight or further review. I will say that, as soon as an article is published, either about a problem at the border, about the union complaining about the mistreatment of workers or about problems connected to the agency, the minister comes out with great fanfare to remind everyone that he made a deep and sincere promise to create a system that would properly handle these complaints and that there would be some oversight or review of the agency.

What has happened in four whole years? Nothing at all.

For years now, every time there is a report in the news or an article comes out detailing various allegations of problems, I have just been copying and pasting the last tweet I posted. The situation keeps repeating, but the government is not doing anything.

This situation is problematic because the minister introduced a bill at the last minute, as the clock is winding down on this Parliament, and the bill has not even been referred yet to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

I have a hard time believing that we will pass this bill in the House and an even harder time seeing how it is going to get through the Senate.

That is important because, in his speech, the minister himself alluded to the fact that in fall 2016, when the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, of which I am a member, travelled across the country to study the issue and make recommendations ahead of introducing Bill C-59, the recommendation to create a committee tasked with studying the specific activities of the CBSA was one of the most important recommendations. As we see in Bill C-98, the government did not take this opportunity to do any such thing.

It is certainly troubling, because Bill C-59 is an omnibus piece of legislation. I pleaded with the House, the minister and indeed even the Senate, when it reached the Senate, through different procedural mechanisms, to consider parts of the bill separately, because, as the minister correctly pointed out, this is a huge overhaul of our national security apparatus. The concern with that is not only the consideration that is required, but also the fact that some of these elements, which I will come back to in a moment, were not even part of the national security consultations that both his department and the committee, through the study it did, actually took the time to examine.

More specifically, coming back to and concluding the point on Bill C-98, the minister does not seem to have acted in a prompt way, considering his commitments when it comes to oversight and/or a review of the CBSA. He said in his answer to my earlier question on his speech that it was not within the scope of this bill. That is interesting, not only because this is omnibus legislation, but also because the government specifically referred the legislation to committee prior to second reading with the goal of allowing amendments that were beyond the scope of the bill on the understanding that it did want this to be a large overhaul.

I have a hard time understanding why, with all the indicators being there that it wanted this to be a large, broad-reaching thing and wanted to have things beyond the scope, it would not have allowed for this type of mechanism. Instead, we find we have a bill, Bill C-98, arriving at the 11th hour, without a proper opportunity to make its way through Parliament before the next election.

I talked about how this is an omnibus bill, which makes it problematic in several ways. I wrote a letter to some senators about children whose names are on the no-fly list and the No Fly List Kids group, which the minister talked about. I know the group very well. I would like to congratulate the parents for their tireless efforts on their children's behalf.

Some of the children are on the list simply because the list is racist. Basically, the fact that the names appear multiple times is actually a kind of profiling. We could certainly have a debate about how effective the list is. This list is totally outdated and flawed because so many people share similar names. It is absurd that there was nothing around this list that made it possible for airlines and the agents who managed the list and enforced the rules before the bill was passed to distinguish between a terrorist threat and a very young child.

Again, I thank the parents for their tireless efforts and for the work they did in a non-partisan spirit. They may not be partisan, but I certainly am. I will therefore take this opportunity to say that I am appalled at the way the government has taken these families and children hostage for the sake of passing an omnibus bill.

The minister said that the changes to the no-fly list would have repercussions on a recourse mechanism that would stop these children from being harassed every time they go to the airport. This part of the bill alone accounted for several hundred pages.

I asked the government why it did not split this part from the rest of the bill so it would pass sooner, if it really believed it would deliver justice to these families and their kids. We object to certain components or aspects of the list. We are even prepared to challenge the usefulness of the list and the flaws it may have. If there are any worthy objectives, we are willing to consider them. However, again, our hands were tied by the use of omnibus legislation. During the election campaign, the Liberals promised to make omnibus bills a thing of the past.

I know parents will not say that, and I do not expect them to do so. I commend them again for their non-partisan approach. However, it is appalling and unacceptable that they have been taken hostage.

Moreover, there is also Bill C-21.

I will digress here for a moment. Bill C-21, which we opposed, was a very troubling piece of legislation that dealt with the sharing of border information with the Americans, among others. This involved information on citizens travelling between Canada and the United States. Bill C-59 stalled in the Senate, much like Bill C-21.

As the Minister of Public Safety's press secretary was responding to the concerns of parents who have children on the no-fly list, he suddenly started talking about Bill C-21 as a solution for implementing the redress system for people who want to file a complaint or do not want to be delayed at the airport for a name on the list, when it is not the individual identified. I think it is absolutely awful that these families are being used as bargaining chips to push through a bill that contains many points that have nothing to do with them and warrant further study. In my view, those aspects have not been examined thoroughly enough to move the bill forward.

I thank the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for recognizing the work I did in committee, even though it took two attempts when he responded to my questions earlier today. In committee, I presented almost 200 amendments. Very few of them were accepted, which was not a surprise.

I would like to focus specifically on one of the Senate's amendments that the government agreed to. This amendment is important and quite simple, I would say even unremarkable. It proposes to add a provision enabling us to review the bill after three years, rather than five, and make amendments if required. That is important because we are proposing significant and far-reaching changes to our national security system. What I find intriguing is that I proposed the same amendment in committee, which I substantiated with the help of expert testimony, and the Liberals rejected my amendment. Now, all of a sudden, the Senate is proposing the same amendment and the government is agreeing to it in the motion we are debating today.

I asked the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness why the Liberals were not willing to put partisanship aside in a parliamentary committee and accept an opposition amendment that proposed a very simple measure but are agreeing to it today. He answered that they had taken the time to reflect and changed their minds when the bill was in the Senate. I am not going to spend too much of my precious time on that, but I find it somewhat difficult to accept because nothing has changed. Experts appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, and it was very clear, simple and reasonable. Having said that, I thank the minister for finally recognizing this morning that I contributed to this process.

I also want to talk about some of what concerns us about the bill. There are two pieces specifically with regard to what was Bill C-51 under the previous government, and a few aspects new to this bill that have been brought forward that cause us some concern and consternation.

There are two pieces in Bill C-51 that raised the biggest concerns at the time of debate in the previous Parliament and raised the biggest concerns on the part of Canadians as well, leading to protests outside our committee hearings when we travelled the country to five major cities in five days in October 2016. The first has to do with threat disruption, and the second is the information-sharing regime that was brought in by Bill C-51. Both those things are concerning for different reasons.

The threat disruption powers offered to CSIS are of concern because at the end of the day, the reason CSIS was created in the first place was that there was an understanding and consensus in Canada that there had to be a separation between the RCMP's role in law enforcement, which is making arrests and the work that revolves around that, and intelligence gathering, which is the work our intelligence service has to do, so they were separated.

However, bringing us back closer to the point where we start to lose that distinction with regard to the threat disruption powers means that a concern about constitutionality will remain. In fact, the experts at committee did say that Bill C-59, while less unconstitutional than what the Conservatives brought forward in the previous Parliament, had yet to be tested, and there was still some uncertainty about it.

We still believe it is not necessary for CSIS to have these powers. That distinction remains important if we want to be in keeping with the events that led to the separation in the first place, namely the barn burnings, the Macdonald Commission and all those things that folks who have followed this debate know full well, but which we do not have time to get into today.

The other point is the sharing of information, which we are all familiar with. We opened the door to more liberal sharing of information, no pun intended, between the various government departments. That is worrisome. In Canada, one of the most highly publicized cases of human rights violations was the situation of Maher Arar while he was abroad, which led to the Arar commission. In such cases, we know that the sharing of information with other administrations is one of the factors that can lead to the violation of human rights or torture. There are places in the world where human rights are almost or completely non-existent. We find that the sharing of information between Canadian departments can exacerbate such situations, particularly when information is shared between the police or the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

There is an individual who was tortured abroad who is currently suing the government. His name escapes me at the moment. I hope he will forgive me. Global Affairs Canada tried to get him a passport to bring him back to Canada, regardless of whether the accusations against him were true, because he was still a Canadian citizen. However, overwhelming evidence suggests that CSIS and the RCMP worked together with foreign authorities to keep him abroad.

More information sharing can exacerbate that type of problem because, in the government, the left hand does not always know what the right hand is doing. Some information can fall into the wrong hands. If the Department of Foreign Affairs is trying to get a passport for someone and is obligated by law to share that information with CSIS, whose interests are completely different than those of our diplomats, this could put us on a slippery slope.

The much-criticized information sharing system will remain in place with Bill C-59. I do not have the time to list all the experts and civil society groups that criticized this system, but I will mention Amnesty International, which is a well-known organization that does excellent work. This organization is among those critical of allowing the information sharing to continue, in light of the human rights impact it can have, especially in other countries.

Since the bill was sent back to committee before second reading, we had the advantage of being able to propose amendments that went beyond the scope of the bill. We realized that this was a missed opportunity. It was a two-step process, and I urge those watching and those interested in the debates to go take a look at how it went down. There were several votes and we called for a recorded division. Votes can sometimes be faster in committee, but this time we took the time to do a recorded division.

There were two proposals. The Liberals were proposing an amendment to the legislation. We were pleased to support the amendment, since it was high time we had an act stating that we do not support torture in another country as a result of the actions of our national security agencies or police forces. Nevertheless, since this amendment still relies on a ministerial directive, the bill is far from being perfect.

I also proposed amendments to make it illegal to share any information that would lead to the torture of an individual in another country. The amendments were rejected.

I urge my colleagues to read about them, because I am running out of time. As you can see, 20 minutes is not enough, but I would be happy to take questions and comments.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 7th, 2019 / 10:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, the reason is that the subject matter is different. Any security or intelligence activities of CBSA will in fact be reviewable under the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and under the provisions of Bill C-59. What remains to be done, and this is the subject of Bill C-98, is a review mechanism for the activities of CBSA that do not relate to national security and intelligence. That is what Bill C-98 covers. The intelligence and security part of CBSA is covered by Bill C-59 and by the previous bill, Bill C-22.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 7th, 2019 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the minister for the acknowledgement. However, I would like to come back to the second question I posed to him in my first round, which is regarding CBSA.

As colleagues in the House know, CBSA is the only national security agency that does not have its own dedicated review and/or oversight body. The minister is proposing one in Bill C-98, but I want to know why he did not do that in the legislation before us, when it has been promised for a number of years now. The fact is that Bill C-98 has not even gone to a committee in the House yet, much less been brought to the Senate. Therefore, it seems less and less likely that it would be adopted, and we know that this is an important mechanism that is required.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 7th, 2019 / 10:30 a.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the minister for his speech.

I have two questions for him. The first is about the Senate amendments before us today. Some may think I am getting hung up on what seems like a minor detail in an omnibus bill, but I just want to figure out the government's approach and go back to something my colleague mentioned.

This process should not be partisan, yet there is a certain partisan tinge to the amendment that changes the review period for the act from five years to three. I presented this amendment in committee, and it was rejected. Now that the Senate is presenting it, however, the government is all for it.

Could the minister explain to me why the government changed its mind about a detail that is so trivial but was recommended by the committee's witnesses?

My second question is about the Canada Border Services Agency. The minister has been promising almost since day one to create a review body for the Canada Border Services Agency. Now we finally have a bill that does that, but with so little time left in the session and the bill not even at committee stage yet, the odds of it passing are low.

Since the government was tabling an omnibus bill anyway, why not throw in what we now see in Bill C-98, so that people whose rights are violated at the border can get at least some recourse?

June 3rd, 2019 / 4:05 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Minister, I'm going to have to interrupt you, because my time is limited and this is probably the only round I'll get to ask you questions.

I just want to say that I do think it's an important thing to raise, because on expenditures there's a particular role for all parliamentarians to play beyond just the committee with clearance, where it can pertain more to operational details. Money is a whole different game, as Monsieur Picard was alluding to in his questions about the role that even we can play as those around this table at this committee.

On that note, I do want to move on to CBSA and the CRCC. We know that Bill C-98 is before the House. I'm wondering if you can clarify. There's $500,000 for CBSA and there's $420,000 for CRCC. I have two questions about that.

One, is that all the money that's going to come out of the Bill C-98 mechanism, or is there more money following that to implement those measures? Two, what explains that discrepancy? If it's $500,000 for CBSA, are they doing the work internally for review and oversight, or is that going to be sent off back to CRCC once Bill C-98 has become law?

June 3rd, 2019 / 3:30 p.m.
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Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Chairman, thank you for your very kind remarks. They are much appreciated, and I'm glad to be back with the committee once again, this time, of course, presenting the 2019-20 main estimates for the public safety portfolio.

To help explain all of those numbers in more detail and to answer your questions today, I am pleased to be joined by Gina Wilson, the new deputy minister of Public Safety Canada. I believe this is her first appearance before this committee. She is no stranger, of course, in the Department of Public Safety, but she has been, for the last couple of years, the deputy minister in the Department for Women and Gender Equality, a department she presided over the creation of.

With the deputy minister today, we have Brian Brennan, deputy commissioner of the RCMP; David Vigneault, director of CSIS; John Ossowski, president of CBSA; Anne Kelly, commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada; and Anik Lapointe, chief financial officer for the Parole Board of Canada.

The top priority of any government, Mr. Chair, is to keep its citizens safe and secure, and I'm very proud of the tremendous work that is being done by these officials and the employees who work following their lead diligently to serve Canadians and protect them from all manner of public threats. The nature and severity of those threats continue to evolve and change over time and, as a government, we are committed to supporting the skilled men and women who work so hard to protect us by giving them the resources they need to ensure that they can respond. The estimates, of course, are the principal vehicle for doing that.

The main estimates for 2019-20 reflect that commitment to keep Canadians safe while safeguarding their rights and freedoms. You will note that, portfolio-wide, the total authorities requested this year would result in a net increase of $256.1 million for this fiscal year, or 2.7% more than last year's main estimates. Of course, some of the figures go up and some go down, but the net result is a 2.7% increase.

One key item is an investment of $135 million in fiscal year 2019-20 for the sustainability and modernization of Canada's border operations. The second is $42 million for Public Safety Canada, the RCMP and CBSA to take action against guns and gangs. Minister Blair will be speaking in much more detail about the work being done under these initiatives when he appears before the committee.

For my part today I will simply summarize several other funding matters affecting my department, Public Safety Canada, and all of the related agencies.

The department is estimating a net spending decrease of $246.8 million this fiscal year, 21.2% less than last year. That is due to a decrease of $410.7 million in funding levels that expired last year under the disaster financial assistance arrangements. There is another item coming later on whereby the number goes up for the future year. You have to offset those two in order to follow the flow of the cash. That rather significant drop in the funding for the department itself, 21.2%, is largely due to that change in the DFAA, for which the funding level expired in 2018-19.

There was also a decrease of some $79 million related to the completion of Canada's presidency of the G7 in the year 2018.

These decreases are partially offset by a number of funding increases, including a $25-million grant to Avalanche Canada to support its life-saving safety and awareness efforts; $14.9 million for infrastructure projects related to security in indigenous communities; $10.1 million in additional funding for the first nations policing program; and $3.3 million to address post-traumatic stress injuries affecting our skilled public safety personnel.

The main estimates also reflect measures announced a few weeks ago in budget 2019. For Public Safety Canada, that is, the department, these include $158.5 million to improve our ability to prepare for and respond to emergencies and natural disasters in Canada, including in indigenous communities, of which $155 million partially offsets that reduction in DFAA that I just referred to.

There's also $4.4 million to combat the truly heinous and growing crime of child sexual exploitation online.

There is $2 million for the security infrastructure program to continue to help communities at risk of hate-motivated crime to improve their security infrastructure.

There is $2 million to support efforts to assess and respond to economic-based national security threats, and there's $1.8 million to support a new cybersecurity framework to protect Canada's critical infrastructure, including in the finance, telecommunications, energy and transport sectors.

As you know, in the 2019 federal budget, we also announced $65 million as a one-time capital investment in the STARS air rescue system to acquire new emergency helicopters. That important investment does not appear in the 2019-20 main estimates because it was accounted for in the 2018-19 fiscal year, that is, before this past March 31.

Let me turn now to the 2019-20 main estimates for the other public safety portfolio organizations, other than the department itself.

I'll start with CBSA, which is seeking a total net increase this fiscal year of $316.9 million. That's 17.5% over the 2018-19 estimates. In addition to that large sustainability and modernization for border operations item that I previously mentioned, some other notable increases include $10.7 million to support activities related to the immigration levels plan that was announced for the three years 2018 to 2020. Those things include security screening, identity verification, the processing of permanent residents when they arrive at the border and so forth—all the responsibilities of CBSA.

There's an item for $10.3 million for the CBSA's postal modernization initiative, which is critically important at the border. There is $7.2 million to expand safe examination sites, increase intelligence and risk assessment capacity and enhance the detector dog program to give our officers the tools they need to combat Canada's ongoing opioid crisis.

There's also approximately $100 million for compensation and employee benefit plans related to collective bargaining agreements.

Budget 2019 investments affecting CBSA main estimates this year include a total of $381.8 million over five years to enhance the integrity of Canada's borders and the asylum system. While my colleague Minister Blair will provide more details on this, the CBSA would be receiving $106.3 million of that funding in this fiscal year.

Budget 2019 also includes $12.9 million to ensure that immigration and border officials have the resources to process a growing number of applications for Canadian visitor visas and work and study permits.

There is $5.6 million to increase the number of detector dogs deployed across the country in order to protect Canada's hog farmers and meat processors from the serious economic threat posed by African swine fever.

Also, there's $1.5 million to protect people from unscrupulous immigration consultants by improving oversight and strengthening compliance and enforcement measures.

I would also note that the government announced through the budget its intention to introduce the legislation necessary to expand the role of the RCMP's Civilian Review and Complaints Commission so it can also serve as an independent review body for CBSA. That proposed legislation, Bill C-98, was introduced in the House last month.

I will turn now to the RCMP. Its estimates for 2019-20 reflect a $9.2-million increase over last year's funding levels. The main factors contributing to that change include increases of $32.8 million to compensate members injured in the performance of their duties, $26.6 million for the initiative to ensure security and prosperity in the digital age, and $10.4 million for forensic toxicology in Canada's new drug-impaired driving regime.

The RCMP's main estimates also reflect an additional $123 million related to budget 2019, including $96.2 million to strengthen the RCMP's overall policing operations, and $3.3 million to ensure that air travellers and workers at airports are effectively screened on site. The increases in funding to the RCMP are offset by certain decreases in the 2019-20 main estimates, including $132 million related to the completion of Canada's G7 presidency in 2018 and $51.7 million related to sunsetting capital infrastructure projects.

I will now move to the Correctional Service of Canada. It is seeking an increase of $136 million, or 5.6%, over last year's estimates. The two main factors contributing to the change are a $32.5-million increase in the care and custody program, most of which, $27.6 million, is for employee compensation, and $95 million announced in budget 2019 to support CSC's custodial operations.

The Parole Board of Canada is estimating a decrease of approximately $700,000 in these main estimates or 1.6% less than the amount requested last year. That's due to one-time funding received last year to assist with negotiated salary adjustments. There is also, of course, information in the estimates about the Office of the Correctional Investigator, CSIS and other agencies that are part of my portfolio. I simply make the point that this is a very busy portfolio and the people who work within Public Safety Canada and all the related agencies carry a huge load of public responsibilities in the interests of public safety. They always put public safety first while at the same time ensuring that the rights and freedoms of Canadians are properly protected.

With that, Mr. Chair, my colleagues and I would be happy to try to answer your questions.

Bill C-98—Notice of time allocation motionRoyal Canadian Mounted Police ActGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2019 / 1:20 p.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise that agreements could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the second reading stage of Bill C-98, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the Crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stage.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2019 / 5:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, this is a continuation of my remarks on Bill C-98 from over a week ago.

I would be remiss if I did not note my disappointment with the last vote. This was an opportunity for the government, with a Prime Minister who said that the government would be transparent by default, to release the critical document in the Admiral Mark Norman affair, the memo from Michael Wernick, from the early days, on why Mr. Norman was picked out of 73 people on a PCO list. Mr. Wernick is not a lawyer, so it is not legal advice. Canadians know Michael Wernick and they know the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Unredacting that memo would have been a gesture of goodwill on the part of the government, in light of the fact that the Crown had to admit in court that it had no reasonable prospect of success at trial. After the terrible ordeal Mr. Norman has been through, that would have been a nice recognition. I have to say that I was disappointed.

As I was saying in my previous remarks, one of the main issues I have with Bill C-98, and with some of the bills we are debating now, in the final days of this Parliament, is the fact that if the bill were coming here after robust consultations with the people affected, we might be in a position to say that this is legislation that is in the long-term interest of the RCMP and other groups caught by the legislation, but it is not.

Bill C-98 is another example of legislation related to public safety, related to peace officers and related to police officers that misses the mark yet again. It is unfortunate, because as the minister would know, we tried, in good faith, at the beginning of this Parliament, to work with the government on these issues.

The minister would remember Bill C-7, the RCMP unionization bill. We worked with the government, and thanks to the member for Beaches—East York, it accepted our recommendations to make the provisions of Bill C-7 more equitable for members, regardless of what province they were in with respect to workplace injuries, rehabilitation and supports. On legislation related to the RCMP, we provided substantive input that helped with that legislation.

Canadians see at the end of this parliamentary session that we are getting a little raucous and a little feisty. An election is on the horizon. I will remind them that at the beginning of this Parliament, when it came to the RCMP, in light of a Supreme Court decision—

The House resumed from May 17 consideration of the motion that Bill C-98, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.