Mr. Chairman, I just want to reiterate that I believe we're actually discussing the subamendment put forward by our parliamentary secretary, and that on March 10 we will have Minister MacKay and Minister Blaney here as witnesses on this very important bill.
If we look at it, the subamendment says that we should have eight meetings. That will obviously take us through to some time in March. We're going to have 16 hours of expert testimony and two hours with the ministers. We're looking at a total of 48 witnesses. I know that our colleagues across the way have asked for 25 meetings. To me, that shows they're not being responsible in terms of trying to work with us as government. This is extremely important legislation. Quite frankly, I'm flabbergasted and find it quite outrageous that they're not prepared to make any changes, or even to work with us in terms of coming closer to what we're suggesting.
I think that the highest priority for our government, and for any government, is to make sure we protect our citizens and that our country is safe and secure. This is what this bill does.
What we're trying to do is to bring in some good legislation that is going to help us with what we see around the world, with ISIS, ISIL, and the terrorist activities that are happening.
On a regular basis, we see the videos coming from them trying to recruit. Here we have the latest one, Mr. Chairman. The Somalis have asked that they attack the West Edmonton Mall. I have family in Edmonton who regularly go to the West Edmonton Mall. My wife and I go to the West Edmonton Mall on occasion when we go to visit family.
The whole question is, if we don't have this legislation, how is it possible for CSIS, which is tracking this information, to share information with organizations and the police forces to stop these terrorist attacks? I find that extremely difficult.
My colleagues on this side of the House talked about sharing information and about terrorists. We have these people who have left Canada to join ISIS, to become terrorists, and then they want to come back home. What happens if they come back home and they have to be interviewed by, say, a passport officer in whatever country they're trying to come back from? This officer cannot share that information with law enforcement agencies. Even if you have an RCMP officer sitting right next door, he can't share that information. Law enforcement can't interview the individual, so they can't really do a follow-up. All the passport officer could do is to file something so that at some point in time, perhaps the RCMP or somebody in national security might be able to follow up on this individual. At the same time, if this is a Canadian citizen, we cannot stop him from coming back into the country.
That's another important reason that we need to have these tools, that our law enforcement and CSIS have these tools, so that they can actually share information. That sharing of information is to protect Canadians. It's to protect our country.
We've seen two terrorist attacks here in Canada. Two of our military people died as a result of those attacks. We actually have scars here in the House of Commons just down the hall, right here at this door, where we saw terrorist attacks. We know that we need to make sure that the tools are available to help protect our country, and to protect us politicians. I know we have security here. It's an important aspect to protect our citizens as well as our politicians, who make the laws for this country. I see that as an extremely important aspect of this bill.
I just have such difficulty in terms of knowing that the opposition appears to be stalling. They appear not to want to have any kind of negotiation to move this forward. I'm taking it that they just want to filibuster this whole process.
Our colleagues across the way have talked about protecting Canadian rights and freedoms. In this bill I believe that is already covered. CSIS is strictly prohibited from undertaking threat disruption activities against individuals engaged in lawful protest or dissent. That means if they're not doing anything illegal, it's highly unlikely they would be arrested or charged. If they are doing something illegal, should they not be charged and arrested?
I just wrote an article on this whole issue on Bill C-51; it should probably be in the local paper in the next day or so. That was one of the conclusions I came to, that if you're doing something unlawful, you should be charged. If I do something unlawful, I should be charged and arrested. To me, a peaceful demonstration has nothing to do with that.
I know my colleague across the way; I've been on the same committees as him. I can understand some of his concerns. One of the things he talked about was resources. My colleague Mr. Norlock already talked about increased funding that we have provided, I think by a third, since 2006.
My colleague across the way mentioned that they have to shift resources. We know that crime, in terms of ISIS and this whole terrorist activity, has been evolving. It's changing on a regular basis. Sometimes you need to change some of your priorities while you get additional resources in place. To me, that's not an unreasonable approach.
I would expect that if needed, the RCMP must move people, or if CSIS needs additional people, if they have the funding resources available to them.... You can't just hire them overnight. This does take time. I was the human resources manager for an organization and I recruited people from around the world to work in our business. The same kind of process is needed whether you're hiring for national security or national defence or CSIS. You actually have to go through a process to find people.
I certainly don't expect that they could do this overnight. To my recollection, it usually took us several months to get in place a process where we could decide on exactly what we needed and when we needed it. Then, of course, there was the recruiting process. I see that being no different for CSIS or the RCMP or even our Canadian Forces. My son is in the Canadian Forces, and he tells me about the recruiting there as well. It does take time.
I guess I'm a bit flustered by my colleague's comment that we have to shift resources. This is an evolving process. This is evolving. With ISIS, the threat is evolving not only here in Canada, but it's evolving across the globe.
I'm in contact with my communities and the citizens within those communities. I can tell you they are extremely worried about what's happening. I get e-mails on a regular basis from them saying that we have to do something to make sure that Canadians are safe and that our country is safe and secure. This bill is what we want to do to make sure that happens.
My colleague also talked about critical infrastructure. My recollection is that rail lines would be critical infrastructure. We did see some arrests made as a result of some planning to bomb a train or a tunnel on the way to New York, or in New York. For goodness' sake, that would be critical.
I think about what would happen if we didn't protect nuclear facilities. We could be in a big mess. Oil and gas production, hospitals; there is so much important, critical infrastructure around this country that needs to be protected. If there is somebody who is doing a legal protest around those, I don't see that as a big problem, but it is critical we make sure that those infrastructures are protected on a long-term basis from terrorists and terrorism.
We know that they will disrupt and do whatever they can. We talked about how the larger piece is that they want to be very dramatic to get their point across. Some of the terrorists talked about Mumbai and what's happened there. We've seen it in Europe. We've seen it in Australia. It doesn't seem to end.
It's another important aspect that we continue to fight these terrorists. That means not just here at home. That doesn't mean just with CSIS or the RCMP. We're also working with our allies. That's an important aspect, because if we don't work with our allies to stop these terrorists where they are in Syria and Iraq...it's spreading everywhere. From my point of view, it is extremely important that we work in cooperation.
We've heard from the Minister of National Defence that we are working with our allies. We have had some very good successes in trying to disrupt ISIS, these terrorists. We know they're planning to come to North America. They're here in North America. They're planning on trying to bring down our western values. For us and our allies, the western values and the freedoms we have and appreciate are important.
Freedom comes also with security. We want to make sure we have security here in Canada, as well as in North America, and as well as in our allied countries. It's so important that we stop this terrorist movement where we can, when we can, and with all the resources that are available to us. That's another important aspect of it.
I'd like to reiterate to my colleague, Mr. Garrison, who talked about all the witnesses they want to have, that I know they're going to have witnesses here. Does he want to have 100 or 200? I don't know. This could go on forever. I think a reasonable approach is the recent suggestion in the subamendment of having eight meetings and 48 witnesses. I don't see that as a big issue.
Another point I want to make, and my colleagues have already talked about it, is judicial oversight. In order for CSIS to do some things, they're going to have to go before a judge and get a warrant. Certainly that means they will have to convince the judiciary that in fact what they want to do is legal and that they can go ahead and do it.
My colleague across the way talked about disruption in other countries. You know what? I think it's important that we've seen disruption take place in other countries because if we don't stop it where we can, then we're going to see it come here in greater numbers. I think Canadians, at least the people in my communities, don't want to see terrorists here. It is a huge concern for all Canadians, particularly the citizens that I represent.
I know that I am not going to be running for re-election again, which in some ways is difficult for me not to do, particularly when we have such an important bill before us. I know that the people in my community are supporting this. They want to make sure that Canada is safe and that they continue their way of life and the freedoms that we have. We can go anywhere. We don't have to have permission. We're free to believe in our religion, and some don't have one, and that's okay too. But what we're concerned about is what we've seen from ISIS. I think we need to make sure that we get this bill passed as soon as possible. I would certainly ask for the cooperation of our colleagues on the other side.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.