Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would like to thank the witnesses for being here. I would also like to point out that Mr. Vernon is appearing on short notice.
We had two family members of victims scheduled to testify. Unfortunately, they both have the flu and couldn't make it. I think it's good to get on the record. It's not that your presence is not significant. It's very significant, and I don't mean to diminish it. But we want to listen to the victims of terrorism and get their views on this issue. We hope that this can happen down the road.
As I listen to the discussion today, it's quite apparent that our law enforcement has taken a major hit from those who wish not to have this bill go forward. I want to underscore my colleague's comments that these are human beings, men and women. They make mistakes from time to time, but on balance and in the scheme of our national security they do a fine job. Thank goodness we're a country that has not had to experience a terrorist attack such as those experienced by a lot of other western democracies.
As I look at terrorist organizations and the reason we need to give law enforcement the tools that this bill contemplates, I see that al-Qaeda and the like survive on two major resources: money and personnel. They are like any major organization. They have to have money and they have to have recruits. They also have to have training grounds for those recruits. Those recruits are preparing for something. Whether you think it's a terrorist attack or just to engage in a debate is up to you.
One of the reasons we've had testimony before and why it is appropriate to go forward with this is that we need to stop terrorism in its tracks by finding the money trail. We need to find and get those people who are suspected of fund-raising in our country and other countries around the world. For this, our law enforcement agencies need to have all the tools available, not just partial tools. They need all the tools at their disposal to disrupt that. That's for sure. This is another tool.
We had testimony earlier, on December 15, from Professor Forcese of the University of Ottawa. He has done an extensive study of this legislation and has compared it with legislation in other countries. Countries like the U.K. and Australia have far more stringent holding powers. He identified a gap in our system.
We asked the department officials who drafted the laws what were they attempting to do. Were they trying to close that gap and trying to do it with a balanced approach to human rights? They said that was exactly what they were doing—trying to close the gap.
The other thing we've been misled about here today is that, actually, CSIS is overseen by a civilian board.