So it seems circular.
I also think that we go down a dangerous slippery slope when we start saying that in order to protect our way of life and our civil liberties, I may have to violate the civil liberties of other people.
The second concept that comes to my mind is the question of onus. It seems to me that a fundamental feature of the fabric of Canadian society and western democracies is that we as individuals have certain fundamental rights. Those rights are primary, and the onus is on the state to make a case as to when those rights are properly abrogated.
I heard mention of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Yes, we are given fundamental rights as individuals, and those rights may be abrogated, if the state can justify an abrogation of those rights “as may be justified in a free and democratic society”. It's not for individuals to justify why they're entitled to their rights. As a matter of being Canadian citizens, as a matter of fundamental liberty in our concept of democracy, we have those rights until the state justifies otherwise.
I want to talk a little bit about what we're dealing with here. We're dealing with the concept of giving police officers the right to preventatively arrest based on suspicion, and we're talking about compelling testimony from people—forcing people to testify. Both of these are significant departures from our current legal system. In fact, I'm going to quote the CBA, which says:
These powers, especially the power to conduct an investigative hearing, represent a significant departure from powers traditionally available to investigate criminal offences.
I'm going to try to go to some fact. If we're talking about a justification for these powers, I think the place we must all start from is the objective evidence. Now, we all know some basic facts, but I think they bear repeating.
This is what we know so far: that these powers were introduced in 2001, and in ten years they have been used precisely once—once in a decade. We know that since the original bill sunsetted—since 2007, when these powers have not been in place at all—we have not had any occasion to utilize these powers. We also know that since those provisions were allowed to sunset, Canadian criminal law has continued to operate effectively.
I also want to quote from the Canadian Bar Association submission that we received, and then I'll ask for some comment on it, if I can. It said we must:
...recognize that rules and procedures in Canadian criminal law, as they existed prior to the addition of sections 83.28 and 83.3, were effective in protecting people within Canada from the harm caused by criminal offences, including those associated with terrorism.
And CBA has identified themselves as the national voice of the legal profession.
Here's my question. If we put these laws into place, which were used once, we have the Canadian Bar Association, the national voice of the legal profession, telling us that the criminal laws we had at that time and since are totally effective in preventing terrorism. We also know that, standing in distinction to the fact that they were used only once, I can name you five cases of serious violations of Canadians' human rights: Messrs. Arar, El Maati, Almalki, Nureddin, and Charkaoui.
Can any of you comment on the evidentiary basis, the objective base that we as parliamentarians would possibly have to proceed with a law that so fundamentally alters our Canadian legal system?