House of Commons Hansard #95 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was terrorism.


Order in Council AppointmentsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia


Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to table, in both official languages, a number of order in council appointments made recently by the government.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34 I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, two reports from the Canadian Branch, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association concerning the 40th Canadian Regional Conference which was held in Edmonton, Alberta from July 16 to 22, 2001 and the 47th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, which was held in Australia from September 4 to 14, 2001.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition on behalf of concerned citizens of Yellowhead on the protection of children from sexual predators.

The petition calls on parliament to pass legislation requiring a minimum jail sentence of 20 years for violent sexual child predators. They call for legislation that would see repeat offenders jailed indefinitely.

The petition is part of the Carrie's Guardian Angel Initiative and was signed by 825 of my constituents.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise to present two more petitions from the citizens of Peterborough and the surrounding region who are very keen that VIA Rail service be resumed between Toronto and Peterborough.

They see this as providing great environmental advantages in the reduction in greenhouse gases and helping Canada meet its Kyoto agreement. They see it as reducing congestion on the highways and reducing accident rates on the highways. They see it as something which will strengthen the business environment not only of Peterborough but also of the greater Toronto area.

This project, the re-establishment of VIA Rail, has support in eight federal ridings.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia


Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members


Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Discussions have taken place between all parties and the member for Davenport concerning the taking of the division on Bill C-287 scheduled for later today at the conclusion of private members' business. I believe you would find consent for the following:

That at the conclusion of today's debate on Bill C-287, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion for second reading be deemed put, a recorded division deemed requested and deferred to Wednesday, October 17, 2001 at the expiry of the time provided for government orders.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is there agreement?

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to)

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Edmonton West Alberta


Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-36, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Official Secrets Act, the Canada Evidence Act, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act and other acts, and to enact measures respecting the registration of charities in order to combat terrorism, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I want to thank members for the opportunity to rise in the House this morning to speak in support of Bill C-36, the Government of Canada's anti-terrorism act.

Before commenting on specific measures, I would like to highlight this government's commitment to the fight against terrorism. This bill represents an important component of the federal government's comprehensive strategy to strengthen national security.

The horrific terrorist acts of September 11 created suffering, fear and uncertainty. These events challenged Canadians' sense of safety and security and it is this that we must address as our first priority.

Terrorism seeks to undermine the rule of law and human rights. Terrorism seeks to undermine our values and way of life. Terrorism tries to turn one community against another, religion against religion, and race against race. Terrorism seeks all these things but it will achieve none of them, not here in Canada. This government has been clear but it is worth repeating over and over again: this is not a war against any one group or ethnicity but a war against terrorism.

The measures contained in this bill target persons and activities that undermine the security and welfare of Canadians. Our efforts are directed against terrorist acts, not against the members of a specific community, ethnicity, or religion. Diversity is one of Canada's greatest strengths and we are taking measures to protect it.

We are marshalling our resources against the forces of terror while still maintaining our commitment to the enduring values of democracy. Striking the proper balance has always been the challenge of democratic governments. This has never been more true than it is today. We are protecting our values and defining the threat that terrorism poses to free and civilized nations everywhere. These values receive an important part of their legal expression in the charter of rights and freedoms. We will protect the very thing that terrorism seeks to disrupt, namely, maintaining the balance between an open and just society and a safe and secure one.

Bill C-36 is one element of the Government of Canada's comprehensive action plan on Canadian security, a plan whose objectives are to stop terrorists from getting into Canada and protect Canadian citizens from terrorist acts, to bring forward tools to identify, prosecute, convict and punish terrorists, to keep our borders secure and to work with the international community to bring terrorists to justice and address the root causes of hatred.

In developing this legislation we have paid close attention to what other democratic countries are doing in their fight against terrorism. It is important that we act in a way that is consistent with the approach of other democratic nations and in conformity with international law.

The world changed on September 11 in a way that changed our collective sense of safety and security. Reviewing our legal framework was one component of a more thorough review undertaken by the federal government to strengthen our national security. Be assured that all democratic nations have undertaken a similar re-examination.

Canadians have much to be proud of and much to protect. This bill strikes a balance between our desire to maintain the values of freedom and individual rights and our collective determination to protect our citizens.

Canadians can rest assured that we kept in mind the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the charter when drafting our proposals.

The bill reaffirms the equal right of every citizen of whatever religion, race or ethnic origin to enjoy the security, protections and liberties shared by all Canadians.

Amendments to the criminal code would allow the courts to order the deletion of publicly available hate propaganda from computer systems such as an Internet site. Those who post material will be provided the opportunity to convince the court that the material is not hate propaganda. The provision would apply to hate propaganda that is located on Canadian computer systems regardless of where the owner of the material is located or whether he or she can be identified.

Further, criminal code amendments would create a new offence of mischief, motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on religion, race, colour, national or ethnic origin, committed against a place of religious worship or associated religious property.

In addition, the Canadian Human Rights Act will be amended to clarify that communication of hate messages using new technology, such as the Internet, constitutes a discriminatory practice. While such communication is already interpreted to be discriminatory, these amendments will add certainty and clarity to the law.

I should like to describe the approach we have developed in Bill C-36. The proposed legislative package focuses on three elements. Bill C-36 targets terrorist activity and those who would carry out or support such activity. The three main objectives of the new measures are as follows: first, to suppress the very existence of terrorist groups; second, to provide new investigative tools; and, third, to provide a tougher sentencing regime to incapacitate terrorists and terrorist groups.

The bill seeks to identify, dismantle, prosecute and punish terrorist activity. Bill C-36 includes criminal code amendments to ratify the remaining two United Nations conventions and protocols related to terrorism. The suppression of terrorist financing convention concerns the freezing of terrorist property.

It would prohibit dealing in any property of an individual involved in terrorist activities and it would prohibit making available funds and financial means or services to terrorists. These measures would allow a federal court judge to order the seizure and forfeiture of property used in or related to terrorist activity.

The suppression of terrorist bombings convention contains provisions relating to the targeting of public places, government or infrastructure facilities or transportation systems with explosives or other lethal devices including chemical or biological agents. The term explosive or other lethal device is defined broadly to include toxic chemicals, biological agents and radioactive substances. Ratification of these two conventions would reflect Canada's commitment to work together with the international community.

Let there be no doubt. Whether we are in North America or somewhere else in the world, terrorism represents a global threat, the force of which reverberated in the cities of New York and Washington on September 11. We shall take all legitimate means necessary to undermine the forces of terrorism. We must without hesitation work with our neighbours and with our allies to ensure that those who seek to terrorize the innocent and support terrorists understand that we will cut off their money. We will find them and we will punish them for their acts of violence.

The legislation before the House would provide a definition of terrorist activity for the first time. This definition is critical, as many of the legal implications under the bill are tied to the concept of terrorist activity. The first element of the definition outlines the offences that are established in the 12 international conventions related to terrorism, all of which we have signed.

Equally important, however, is a general definition that refers to acts or omissions undertaken for political, religious or ideological purposes and which are intended to intimidate the public, force governments to act and cause serious harm.

We have carefully restricted the definition to make it clear that property damage and disruption of an essential service are not in and of themselves sufficient to constitute a terrorist activity. The action taken must also endanger lives or cause serious risks to the health and safety of the public.

This is an important issue about which some of my colleagues have expressed concern. To respond to their concerns let me assure the House and all Canadians that this definition shall in no way include legitimate forms of political dissent. It would not impinge upon the lawful activities of legitimate political groups or lobby organizations. In addition, the legislation would permit the designation of groups whose activities meet the definition of terrorist activity.

I will speak now to the issue of new offences as laid out in the legislation and as targeted to acts of terrorism. Comprehensive new terrorism offences under the criminal code have been created. These include offences relating to participating in, facilitating or instructing terrorist activity and harbouring others who carry out terrorist activity.

These offences would criminalize a full range of activities related to terrorism. For example, a person who helps to train another person in an otherwise legal activity such as flying an aircraft would commit a crime if the trainer knew it would help the other person carry out a terrorist activity. This would be the case regardless of whether the trainer knew when, where or how the terrorist activity might be carried out.

The new offences related to direction of or instruction in terrorist activity would allow us to go after the leaders of terrorist organizations. The most severe penalties, up to life imprisonment, are attached to these offences.

I have spoken about the effort demonstrated in the bill to maintain a balance between a firm commitment to eradicate terrorism and the protection of civil liberties for all Canadians. There are safeguards built into these new terrorism offences throughout the bill. Notably the required proof includes specific intent or actual knowledge in relation to the prohibited conduct.

We are all aware that the lifeblood of terrorist organizations is money. Bill C-36 proposes new measures under the criminal code to combat the financing of terrorism. It includes measures related to the seizure, restraint and forfeiture of terrorist property. The new measures related to financing would allow us to effectively go after the heart of terrorist financing networks.

For example, it would be an offence to collect or provide cash knowing that it would be used to facilitate or carry out an offence that constitutes terrorist activity. It would be an offence to provide financial services knowing that they would be used to facilitate or carry out terrorist activity or to benefit a terrorist group. Persons in the financial services industry who knowingly engage in transactions related to terrorism could find themselves charged criminally.

These measures are also subject to safeguards including substantive and procedural requirements governing seizure, restraint and forfeiture. Third party interests including those of the innocent families of those involved would be protected.

I should like to turn now to the element of the bill that would provide for preventive arrest as a way of assisting law enforcement officers to disrupt terrorism acts. The September 11 events heightened our awareness of the highly sophisticated nature of terrorist activity.

Sophisticated communications, modified organizational structures and an ability to evade traditional investigative methods require us to examine what other tools may be available to help security and enforcement officers carry out their investigations. The preventive arrest is one such tool.

If an officer believes on reasonable grounds that a serious terrorist offence is about to take place and suspects that the arrest of a particular person would prevent it, then that person can be detained and brought before a judge. These measures would only be available under strictly defined conditions and would be subject to numerous procedural safeguards.

The consent of the attorney general would be required as a prerequisite, save for emergency circumstances. The person would be brought before a provincial court judge within 24 hours or as soon as possible, and a maximum further period in detention of 48 hours would be possible if a judge so orders.

The object of bringing the person before the court is for the court to consider whether conditions should be imposed upon the person's movements and associations. The court may impose such conditions or may release the person without conditions. If the person refuses to accept conditions the court may commit him or her to prison for up to 12 months.

The bill also amends the proceeds of crime or money laundering legislation. Fintrac's mandate would be expanded to gather, analyze and disclose information on terrorist money laundering. The safeguards built into the Fintrac process would be maintained.

The charities registration act would be enacted as part of the bill to allow for the denial or removal of charitable status from organizations that provide resources directly or indirectly to terrorists. This would be subject to both ministerial and judicial review.

Bill C-36 would also provide for investigative hearings under the criminal code. These hearings would permit the gathering of evidence in investigations of terrorism offences prior to the laying of charges. There is an existing procedure under the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act that allows us to do this for other countries, but there is nothing comparable for our own investigations. The United States has investigative grand juries that perform a similar function.

This investigative hearing would not be a trial of an offence. Evidence given could not be used afterward in criminal proceedings against the person. The right to counsel would apply, as would the rights of privilege and other rights of non-disclosure under the law.

The bill would also amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act to clarify its mandate and enable it to investigate threats to Canada, including those arising from religious or ideological objectives in addition to political causes that it now covers. As we have seen, terrorists may be driven by motives other than the purely political.

The bill would amend the National Defence Act to continue and clarify the mandate of the Communications Security Establishment, CSE, to collect foreign communications. The CSE's functions of collecting foreign intelligence and of protecting Government of Canada communications systems are particularly important in the context of action against sophisticated terrorist networks that use computers and satellite telephone systems.

Subject to strict conditions the bill would empower the Minster of National Defence to authorize interceptions in limited circumstances. Safeguards to ensure the privacy of Canadians are built into the legislation.

Other provisions of the bill include the updating and refinement of the Official Secrets Act. This act would be renamed the security of information act and would better address national security concerns.

The amendments cover threats of espionage by foreign powers and by terrorist groups, espionage against Canada's national security, defence, international relations and economic interests. They also address the intimidation and coercion of any émigré community in Canada.

The Canada Evidence Act would be amended to allow for better protection of sensitive information during legal proceedings. One of the key reasons we need this improved protection is to be able to assure our allies that sensitive information they provide to us can be protected from release.

The Access to Information Act, the Privacy Act and Personal Information Protection Act would be amended to allow the Attorney General of Canada to issue certificates prohibiting disclosure of information for the purpose of protecting national security, national defence or international relations. This would be consistent with Canada Evidence Act provisions respecting the protection of such information in court proceedings.

I want to say a few words about the sentencing regime. The bill would implement an aggressive sentencing and parole regime for terrorism offences including a maximum of life imprisonment for many offences and restricted parole eligibility. Those who instruct anyone to carry out a terrorist activity would be subject to a maximum of life imprisonment.

In addition, the criminal code would stipulate that sentences imposed for terrorist offences are to be served consecutively to any other offence imposed relating to the same activity or event.

These are the main elements of our legislative proposals. Legislation alone is not the complete answer to the security challenge we are facing. Rather, it is one element of the government's plan to deal effectively with terrorists and those who support them.

It is incumbent on us to ensure that our laws meet our present day needs. As such, this package includes a three year parliamentary review clause because we acknowledge the fact that our needs may change in the weeks, months and years ahead.

Today I want to reassure Canadians that their government has listened to them and acknowledged their desire for action. It is responding with a legislative package that I believe meets their expectations not only in relation to combating terrorism but in its commitment to protecting individual rights and freedoms.

Our world changed dramatically on September 11 but not in the manner that the terrorists who planned and carried out the horrific attacks had hoped. They aimed to frighten us, disrupt our lives and force us to question our most basic democratic values of freedom and liberty. They did not succeed. Our commitment to democracy is stronger than ever. Together all Canadians are committed to increasing public security while maintaining our core values.

Bill C-36 represents an appropriate legislative balance to reflect Canadian values. Though our allies may have designed different legislative means to suit their legislative and constitutional frameworks, we nevertheless share a collective goal: to provide our citizens with security for themselves, their families and their communities.

I welcome review of the legislation by the House. I encourage all members to participate in the review and to support passage of the legislation.

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been consultations between House leaders and there is unanimous consent for the following motion which I would like to put to the House. I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice, no proceedings pursuant to Standing Order 38 shall be taken up this day and the House shall sit after 6:30 p.m. for the purpose of considering Bill C-36, provided that the House shall adjourn at 10:00 p.m., and provided that, if no Member rises to speak before that time, the debate shall be adjourned and the House shall be adjourned and during such debate the Chair will not entertain motions for unanimous consent.

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is that agreed?

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to)

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Given the presence of the minister today, the importance of the new legislation and the fact that she has given a riveting and informative speech on it, would she entertain a short period of questioning from the opposition? I seek unanimous consent of the House for that.

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is there unanimous consent?

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members


Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members


Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, I thank the minister for her comments. I am pleased to take part in the debate today regarding the long anticipated anti-terrorism legislation. I am pleased to see the new found enthusiasm of members on the Liberal benches to fight terrorism. After years of inaction and denial the light finally went on over there, especially in view of the circumstances of September 11.

The bill being tabled today is an important step forward and reflects many of the issues the Canadian Alliance has been raising over the past years. The bill echoes many recommendations made by Canadian Alliance members of parliament, including the identification of terrorist organizations, the ratification of international obligations to suppress terrorist bombings, and banning fundraising activities that support terrorism.

As recently as September 18 our party introduced a supply motion putting forth a number of the same elements Bill C-36 introduces. The motion unfortunately was voted down as the government accused the Canadian Alliance of playing politics or trying to score political points.

It is disappointing that the government has chosen to disparage the opposition for raising legitimate security concerns, not only in the past month but over the past number of years. It is even more disappointing that the government has forced Canadians to wait so long before finally introducing the same measures it previously disparaged.

The United Kingdom has had strict laws banning terrorist fundraising and other terrorist activity for a year and a half, and the United States has had such laws in place for a number of years. However Canada has not taken any legislative action in this area until now. It appears that government members have finally acknowledged the gravity of the situation now that the tragedy of September 11 has forced them into action.

Although some positive and necessary measures are being announced in the proposed legislation, in the days and weeks to come members of the Canadian Alliance will be urging the minister to take further steps to improve the provisions of the bill.

One issue that needs to be raised and debated is the failure of the government to ban membership in organizations that are clearly identified as terrorist organizations. If the purpose of an organization is to engage in terrorist activities, what possible justification can there be for permitting individuals to continue to belong to the organization?

The Liberal government has argued in the past that such a provision might be considered unconstitutional. However, making it illegal to participate in a group proven to be a terrorist organization is a reasonable limit on freedom of association and other freedoms in the charter.

When the primary, if not the sole, purpose of such an association is to commit illegal terrorist acts, the safety and security of all citizens may reasonably supersede the individual rights of the persons participating in the organizations or conspiring to commit the acts. If the courts do not believe our citizens are deserving of this protection they should tell us so, but the government should have the courage to include that in the bill.

Contrary to the suggestions found in justice department publications, the provision would not make participation in a terrorist organization illegal unless it could be proven that a person had the intention to facilitate illegal actions for the organization. This is the same misleading characterization that was in the government's previous organized crime legislation. People need to understand that the provisions make clear the additional responsibilities a prosecutor would need to demonstrate in a court of law.

Another concern is that the bill does nothing to address Canada's new status as a haven for terrorists seeking to flee the consequences of their crimes in other countries. The Canadian Alliance has called on the government to put in place laws to ensure terrorists are extradited promptly and without reservation to countries that respect the rule of law. However the bill fails to address this serious concern.

The Supreme Court of Canada's United States v Burns decision of February 15, 2001, created a safe haven in Canada for violent criminals, including international terrorists, regardless of nationality, who come to Canada to escape lawful punishment in the United States or any other democratic country.

The anti-terrorism and effective death penalty act of 1996, passed by the United States congress, makes terrorism a federal crime punishable by death. Any suspected terrorist who travels from the United States to Canada to escape prosecution may therefore not be extradited unless assurances are given by the U.S. that the person would not face the death penalty.

It is troubling that if the criminals involved in the New York City or Washington attacks made their way to Canada to avoid prosecution the Canadian government would be prohibited from extraditing them pursuant to United States v Burns unless there were undefined exceptional circumstances. These circumstances are required by the court, so the law becomes the policy playground of unelected judges who define such circumstances on a case by case basis.

These are not simply the comments of members of Canadian Alliance or opposition members. In a related case last February, the day after I stood in the House and said the United States v Burns case was creating a safe haven for terrorists in Canada and the Minister of Justice stood and denied it, her own lawyers on behalf of herself and the Minister of Immigration expressed their concern to the supreme court in precisely the same words. They said its decision could create a safe haven for terrorists.

They cited the case of Suresh and Ahani, suspected terrorists from Sri Lanka and Iran respectively who have claimed refugee status in Canada and are using charter rights to appeal against deportation. Canadian Alliance members have asked the minister to reopen the Suresh arguments. The Supreme Court of Canada has not yet delivered its judgment but the minister is entitled in exceptional circumstances to request that the case be opened.

Given the events of September 11, these are clearly exceptional circumstances. The Minister of Justice has refused to ask the Supreme Court of Canada to reopen the Suresh case. Accordingly it is unlikely that she will be able to extradite foreign terrorists after the court makes its ruling.

In extradition and deportation cases Canadian laws must ensure that terrorists are expelled from Canada promptly and without reservation to face the consequences of their acts. I would ask the minister to reconsider adding such provisions to the legislation. Canadians require legal certainty, not vague assurances by the minister or unelected judges. The security of Canadians is too important to be the policy plaything of unelected judges.

Another worrisome issue is that the bill fails to deny parole to terrorists convicted of multiple murders. Under the anti-terrorism bill sentences would be served consecutively for a number of offences. However sentences of life imprisonment are excluded. In other words, if a terrorist commits murder he or she would be eligible for parole yet for lesser offences the sentences must be served consecutively.

In light of the fact that terrorists attempt to indiscriminately kill and take as many lives as possible, it is self-evident that those who kill in this fashion should never be released from custody. A second opportunity to participate in a mass murder should never be provided, and certainly not provided by the House.

Another concern I draw to the attention of the minister is the joint prosecutorial authority afforded by the legislation. It is clear that both the provincial attorney general and the federal attorney general may initiate prosecutions under the legislation. However I submit that in view of the international scope of terrorism prosecutions should remain in the hands of the federal attorney general.

I agree there should be co-operation with the provincial attorneys general, but the scope of these investigations and the involvement of CSIS and the RCMP require federal direction.

My real fear is that this provision was included simply to download financial responsibility to the provinces and to allow the federal minister of justice to escape political heat whenever she or he did not want to take authority for a prosecution.

We have seen before where the federal government downloads responsibilities after passing a law. The burden of the prosecution and the financial cost associated with those laws then remain on the province. This legislation is a matter of national security. It should be dealt with by the federal attorney general and resourced through parliament.

Many Canadians have serious and legitimate concerns that civil liberties may be sacrificed in the government's attempt to quash terrorist activity. Regardless of the gravity of the security threats facing our country all citizens must be assured of legal protection from the arbitrary exercise of state power. That is why it is so important that the legislation clearly spells out the rights of police and security agencies. We want to provide police and security agents with this authority but not on any terms. The terms must be carefully and clearly delineated in the legislation.

Canadians want to see evidence that the federal government is taking strong and effective legislative measures to improve national security. I do not think these measures need be at the expense of personal freedoms.

The legislation is raising and will continue to raise civil liberty concerns in the course of this debate and beyond. The preventive arrest and the investigative hearings provisions of the bill will surely come under charter scrutiny. The new power of preventive arrest would allow a peace officer to arrest a suspected terrorist if there were reasonable grounds to suspect that the person was about to commit a terrorist activity. The section on investigative hearings would compel material witnesses to disclose information relating to terrorism to a judge even without a formal trial.

It appears that both these measures are reasonable, especially in the context of the investigative hearings where there is protection from self-incrimination. However, the due process that is imported into the investigative hearings may in fact prevent the timely disclosure of information necessary for action against pending or imminent terror activity.

We have to balance those due process concerns with the ability of our authorities to get timely information. In view of the fact that there are no penal consequences as a result of the investigative hearing both processes could be sped up because there are no criminal consequences to that and we need to bear that in mind.

Some of the amendments to the criminal code regarding hate crimes are also of concern. For example, under the bill courts may order an Internet provider to delete an item from the computer system if it were deemed hate propaganda. The courts may also order the custodian of the computer system to provide any information relating to the whereabouts of the person who created the hate propaganda.

The increased abilities of our police and security agencies also need to be carefully considered. It is important to remember that our laws dealing with national security have not kept up with advances in technology in terms of proposed changes to laws governing wiretapping procedures. Criteria for obtaining warrants and electronic surveillance orders to monitor terrorist activity should have been streamlined and modernized years ago. Our frontline workers need to be able to respond to the virtually unlimited resources, funds and technology of terrorist organizations.

The analogy can be made in the context of organized crime. It seems that terrorist organizations and organized crime have unlimited funds. Our police and other security agencies do not. As my colleague pointed out yesterday in question period, the government seems to put its priority on registering the shotguns of duck hunters rather than providing our security services with those resources. Spending $100 million a year on registering the shotguns of duck hunters for no bona fide criminal activity is an absolute disgrace. If the government wants to find money to prevent crime, let it do so by abolishing this very ill conceived national long gun registry.

Another concern is the very close bureaucratic relationship between our federal police, the RCMP, and the solicitor general. If we are giving police this broad power and if it is justified under the charter in order to accomplish these security needs, then we have to take steps to divide that close relationship between the solicitor general and the commissioner of the RCMP.

The commissioner of the RCMP is a deputy minister in his own department. It is wrong for a national police force to have that kind of relationship with the minister. There needs to be protection so that the police work is separate from the political work or the possibility of political interference in that police work.

My colleagues in the NDP have raised the issue that the legislation may suppress bona fide political dissent. That too is a legitimate concern. One of the ways to address that issue is not by diluting the legislation, but by putting a proper reporting system in place so that the heads of the RCMP or other security agencies do not report to the solicitor general but to an independent committee of the House made up of non-partisan members of the House or members from both sides of the House. This is a very important step that we can take in order to ensure that police powers are properly used.

The unprecedented terrorist attacks of September 11 will certainly influence the courts' rulings on security matters. We must allow the courts to do their work after we have considered and passed this legislation.

As the Minister of Justice said, the courts read newspapers, so they know what is going on. It is too bad the minister could not have supplemented that knowledge by expanding the arguments against Suresh. The minister missed a golden opportunity in these exceptional circumstances to make a clear stand against terrorism by indicating very clearly the arguments that need to be made to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Over the course of the past month the Canadian Alliance has drawn attention to the fact that although Canada signed the international convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism almost two years ago, it has not ratified the convention because the federal government failed to put into place the necessary legislation to stop terrorist fundraising.

Now that the legislation has been introduced, it appears that the justice minister was less than frank with the House and Canadians when she implied in the House in response to questioning that she could seize money under subsection 3(2) of the United Nations Act. This section has been amended by new legislation on goods, wares or merchandise; in the very section that she said would allow her to seize those assets, including money, those words have been deleted and replaced with the word property.

Although the minister implied that this section, as it was then, gave her the authority to seize assets, the Canadian Alliance consistently said that the government did not have the legislative authority to do so. It is now clear that this is in fact the case.

It is unfortunate that ministers of the crown would spend their time in question period being vague and less than frank in order to make up for legislative and policy failures, however, I welcome the new provisions that would allow the government to ratify the UN convention and to take this long needed action to suppress the essential financial resources needed by terrorist organizations.

There are a number of amendments to other acts in the bill, including the Official Secrets Act, the Canada Evidence Act, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act, the National Defence Act and many others. We must be diligent in ensuring that all amendments to these acts strike the appropriate balance between national security and the right of the public to be informed of government business. The leader of the PC/DR coalition has been especially vigilant in respect of this disclosure. He has mentioned it in various questions and other statements, as have other members of the House.

Some of the amendments to the Access to Information Act are troubling. For example, the bill would allow the attorney general to prohibit the disclosure of information for the purpose of protecting international relations, national security or defence. This sweeping provision could potentially restrict the information available to Canadians to a great extent. Information about the deficiencies of the Sea King helicopters may not have been revealed if the attorney general could have used the blanket prohibition of protecting national security to prevent such information from being released.

The bill should not be a cover to allow the government to continue to evade its security responsibilities as it has done over the last number of years. These types of amendments to the Access to Information Act need to be very carefully considered.

The government also claims that the bill clarifies the mandate of the Communications Security Establishment. Currently the CSE is a government agency that provides guidance in the area of information technology. However the mandate extended to the CSE in the bill gives considerable legal authority to the agency. For example clause 102 of the bill allows the Minister of National Defence to authorize the CSE to intercept private communications for the sole purpose of obtaining foreign intelligence. This amendment to the National Defence Act is a major shift of the responsibilities of the CSE and should not pass through the House without due consideration of its implications.

Along the same lines I also have concerns about amendments to the Official Secrets Act. Secrecy legislation is primarily designed to protect the security of the state from espionage. However, the broad wording of Canada's Official Secrets Act means that it may be used to sanction the unauthorized release of almost any information held by government.

We must be mindful of this when considering any amendments to the act. In view of the answers we have heard provided to the House by ministers of the crown, for example the solicitor general, matters that routinely are given to members of the press in the United States by the American government are denied access here in the House. The minister simply stands and says that it is a matter of national security and cannot be disclosed. If the minister is taking that position on the basis of the existing act, we can imagine what the minister would do with enhanced powers. We need to clarify the powers that the ministers may have in denying Canadians the right to information that does not undermine national security.

The last but perhaps most important concern I would like to raise today is the matter of resources. The legislation, as good as it is in its various aspects, will be of little value if the Liberal government does not provide adequate resources to our frontline forces in the fight against terrorism. The government consistently says it gives a certain amount of money over a number of years, but when we divide that money over those number of years and subtract the money that has been taken out of the security budget and look at what actual money is going to frontline police and security services, we realize that the money certainly is less than adequate. Again I only need make reference to the kinds of boondoggles into which the government has been willing to put money, like registering the shotguns of duck hunters.

The United States passed legislation in 1996 that requires the government to commit resources to support a wide range of security measures. The Canadian bill has no such requirement. It is the responsibility of the government to provide adequate resources to our frontline police and security agencies in the fight against terrorism. Without this support Canadian security cannot be assured.

The government has taken some important steps. Although we will be considering the provisions of the bill very carefully, it is imperative that the legislation move forward as quickly as possible. I therefore thank members of the House for the increase in the number of hours for debate to raise concerns and move the matter along.

All Canadians are entitled to live in peace and security. While the government has finally moved to respond in a meaningful way to the threat of worldwide terrorism, much remains to be done. Members of the Canadian Alliance, the opposition, are committed to working with the government to ensure that the steps necessary to achieve peace and security in Canada are accomplished.

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11:05 a.m.


Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, as we all know we have been asking the minister to introduce legislation that will allow Canada to fulfill its international commitments in the fight against terrorism for some time now.

It is therefore understandable that since the events of September 11 we have been looking forward to this bill on terrorism. Now that we have it, the question is whether or not it lives up to our expectations.

First, we can only applaud the fact that the minister has finally introduced legislation that truly outlaws activities that finance terrorism. Whether it be for organized crime or terrorists, money is the lifeblood of war.

By starving an organization of its sources of financing, we greatly reduce its striking power. Furthermore, by adding seizure and freezing of assets, we can begin to take seriously the government's claim that it wants to wage war against terrorists.

Unfortunately, from part 6 on, the bill contains, word for word, Bill C-16, the bill on funding charitable organizations. What we thought we could call the late lamented Bill C-16, has risen from the tomb. Apart from a few cosmetic changes, it is to be found in Bill C-36 almost in its entirety.

On April 30 I summarized Bill C-16 in the following terms: suspicion, discretionary power, enigmatic proof, and lack of control. Six months later, I have no choice but to reiterate these same comments about part 6 of this bill on terrorism.

We do not deny that it is appropriate to protect the integrity of the charities registration system by preventing their use as a cover for terrorist organizations. What we dispute is the way the government wants to go about achieving its ends.

This spring we criticized the fact that it went against too many principles of justice for it to pass royal assent. To let this happen would constitute a dangerous precedent in terms of the violation of procedural guarantees. However, yesterday the minister slipped the same bill, give or take a comma, under our nose. Worse yet, the inquisitional procedure established by Bill C-16 now applies to a body that wants its name removed from the list of organizations involved in terrorist activities.

Now under the bill before us the governor in council will be able to establish by regulation a list containing the name of any entity that might be associated with terrorist activities.

What does that mean, exactly? In both cases, the entity and the charity appear before a judge who can reach a decision from evidence submitted in camera and without the party or parties being present.

In even clearer terms, let us suppose that a charity loses its charitable status following the signing of a certificate by the solicitor general or the Minister of National Revenue. The organization will be allowed to ask the judge to quash the certificate. However, it is possible that the judge will base his decision on information that the organization will never have access to.

The same goes for a group that wants to see its name struck from the list of organizations associated with terrorist activities. That group will have to go before a judge, who will determine whether or not to remove the group's name from the list. However, this could take place without the applicant ever knowing why his name first appeared on such a list.

By violating such fundamental and elementary rules of evidence as the disclosure of evidence, the government is ignoring the contradictory nature of our judicial system. All the more worrisome is the fact that the evidence adduced will be based on information provided primarily by CSIS. Knowing the practices used by CSIS and its difficulties in striking a fair balance between national security and rights and freedoms, this might be cause for concern.

With such provisions, we can legitimately ask two questions. Either the information is not circulating between ministers or else the government has simply decided to turn a deaf ear to the representations made by countless witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Finance when it reviewed Bill C-16, which at the time was sponsored by the solicitor general.

Since it is hard to imagine that the Minister of Justice was not informed of what went on during the proceedings of that committee, the only plausible assumption is the second one. Considering all that went on with the young offenders bill, could this be a habit with the minister?

In the same vein, during the first sitting of the Standing Committee on Finance, which took place on May 16, the solicitor general and the Minister of National Revenue tried to explain to us why Bill C-16 did not include the definition of the term terrorist. The solicitor general said, and I quote:

If you are aware, the courts have indicated that it is not necessary to define terrorism.

He went on to say:

When you evaluate around the world to find an exact definition for terrorism, it is about impossible.

As for the Minister of National Revenue, he specified the following:

Merely coming up with a definition or defining parameters would basically, at the end of the line, end up taking away tools or options that we would like to have in this bill.

Yet, to cite just two examples, the U.K. terrorism act and the French penal code have successfully done what these two ministers felt was impossible at the time they were defending Bill C-16 before the committee. The British legislation reads as follows:

In this Act “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where:

The use or threat is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public and,

The use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.

As for the French penal code, terrorism is defined as follows:

Certain criminal offences are considered terrorism when the acts are intentionally linked to an individual or group whose purpose is to cause a serious disruption of public order through intimidation or terror.

This is followed by a list of the criminal offences considered acts of terrorism. I will spare members that, however. We can see that there has been a sort of attempt in Bill C-36 to define the terms terrorist activity, terrorist group and terrorism offence.

Considering that the term was virtually undefinable, according to the two ministers, one might well think that the Minister of Justice has done nothing to simplify things. Bill C-36, instead of providing a definition along the French or British lines that states right off what is involved forces us to constantly jump from one reference to another, and we have almost forgotten what we were looking for by the time we get to the end of the chain of searches. Fortunately the basic content is there, but the form needs more work. In actual fact, there is no definition of terrorism, just definitions for act, action or omission.

In addition, as we have been seeing for some time now, law enforcement officials are demanding a considerable increase in their powers, but must the powers of the various government bodies responsible for security be increased in order to mount an effective campaign against terrorism? Well might one wonder. In the October 6 issue of La Presse , journalist Yves Boisvert wrote:

Nothing useful will be accomplished without effective information services and an intelligent police community.

What constitutes an effective information service? One thing is certain, that is, it is certainly not by keeping tabs on groups such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace, the Anglican Church, the United Church and the Raging Grannies that we are going to dismantle a major terrorist network. Yet considering that some fifty or so organizations and approximately 350 individuals are already being watched closely by CSIS as part of its anti-terrorist program, there is no lack of genuine terrorist threats. We may therefore conclude that if the resources and energies were concentrated in the right place, part of the problem would resolve itself.

Furthermore, in order to be intelligent, must the police be authorized to commit criminal offences as provided for in the organized crime legislation? By placing above the law those who are supposed to enforce it, such measures can only succeed in institutionalizing crime within law enforcement agencies.

Must we also bend the rules of evidence in order to compensate for deficiencies or errors in a case before the courts? Since a police investigation can have a tremendous impact on an accused, the work of law enforcement officers must be guided by rules imposing maximum rigour.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that the primary mission of police officials is to protect public safety. This is not some contest to make a maximum number of arrests leading to charges, particularly if these charges are the result of bungled investigations. Not only will the public not be better protected, but in fact it will be even more vulnerable to possible abuses of authority. This would be to replace one threat with another. If such guiding rules are limited, there is a good chance that corners will be cut.

Bill C-24 opened a door that will be very difficult to close and its long term impact could be catastrophic. By allowing a peace officer to detain a person following an arrest without a warrant, Bill C-36 just opens another door. If there are sceptics, just think of what happened during the October crisis with the War Measures Act: there were hundreds of arbitrary arrests and heavy handed searches without warrants, undoubtedly the worst case of abuse of power ever known in Quebec.

It is fine to introduce anti-terrorism legislation, but let us not forget that this is merely a legislative tool that cannot be effective in and of itself. The best legislation in the world is useless if there are not competent people with a good head to implement it and ensure compliance with it. This includes police authorities, intelligence services and customs officers.

In the case of customs officers, there is still a lot of work to do to change their approach, which remains much more focused on alcohol and cigarette purchases. I made a quick trip to the United States after the September 11 events and when I came back to the Canadian border, the only reflex of the customs officer was to ask me what I had bought that day.

This speaks volumes about the concerns of those who normally should be the first line of defence of our national security.

On the issue of possible abuse, the minister is also grabbing relatively extraordinary powers, since her bill gives the attorney general the authority to unilaterally suspend in a totally arbitrary fashion the application of the Access to Information Act, through powers usually reserved for the commissioner.

Once again, this type of political interference is a cause for concern, particularly since the government has been severely criticized recently, both here and elsewhere, for its policy of silence.

If we look at the amendments to the Firearms Act, we see that the governor in council can exempt any category of non-residents from the provisions of this bill.

According to information received yesterday morning from departmental staff, the amendments to the Firearms Act would apply solely to air marshals responsible for ensuring on board security on international flights.

If this is the objective the minister had in mind, it would be worth her while to say so clearly in her bill. Given the circumstances behind the creation of Bill C-36 and the government's policy of being reactive rather than proactive, we understand that this bill was drafted hastily. We hope, therefore, that we can count on the minister's co-operation when the time comes to propose the necessary amendments to fill in the gaps.

Given the urgency of the situation, the government must not be allowed to use the crisis situation as a pretext for sneaking its bill through. At any rate, the damage is already done, and the situation could hardly be worse, considering the state of psychosis that reigns just about everywhere

If we are to equip ourselves with such a significant tool, such a restrictive and invasive one as an anti-terrorist bill, then we might as well take the time required to make sure we have the best legislative framework possible. The committee stage must not be glossed over. We are certain that many people will want to be heard and we cannot afford to not take advantage of the valuable contribution of their expertise.

There is one more point we feel it is important to raise. At present, the bill specifies that a thorough examination of its provisions and application must be carried out within three years of its enactment. At this point, we feel it would be wise to reduce that three year deadline to one year.

Considering the fact that these are exceptional circumstances and that we are presently debating measures that are equally exceptional, we cannot afford to wait three years before reassessing this legislative framework that is taking us into uncharted territory. We must prevent any opportunities for mistakes and a shorter review period is the best way to make adjustments if the circumstances so require.

To close, as the Prime Minister so wisely stated, we must be vigilant and prudent in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

When it comes to mistakes of the past, we have no doubt that the Prime Minister knows what he is talking about, since he was a minister in the Trudeau cabinet during the October crisis of 1970.

There is no magic bullet when it comes to terrorism, as I have already said. At first glance Bill C-36 appears harsh and invasive. However, it would be inappropriate to remain passive in circumstances such as these.

Basically we will have to take the necessary time to ensure that this bill will allow us to fight terrorism effectively while minimizing the inconveniences to citizens.

In short, we must be sure that Bill C-36 will do more good than harm.

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11:25 a.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am happy to have the opportunity to address Bill C-36 and to put on the record the concerns of the New Democratic Party.

I want to begin by saying a few words about the context in which we are having this debate. Obviously the context is set primarily by the events of September 11 and the need that follows from those events for Canada to consider whether or not its current legal regime is adequate to prevent terrorist activity here in Canada or prevent Canada from being used as a place where terrorist activity in other countries can be financed or in other ways supported.

This drive for new and better anti-terrorism legislation is driven by the legitimate concerns and the legitimate fear that have arisen out of September 11. It arises also out of the motion passed at the United Nations subsequent to September 11 which calls on all nations of the world to implement anti-terrorist legislation and to implement UN conventions with respect to the prevention of terrorism within 90 days. The government is moving to do that. That is a good thing and something which we welcome regardless of what particular concerns we might have about the legislation that is now before us. That is part of the context, i.e., September 11. However, we are not doing this in isolation. Unfortunately we also are considering this legislation in the context of the last few years here in Canada.

What I mean by that is the events that happened, for instance, at the APEC meeting and subsequently in Quebec City. They are on the minds of many people. The government might say that is an entirely different thing. The question is whether or not the bill is designed in such a way to make sure that the kind of protest activities that took place in Vancouver at the APEC meeting, in Windsor at the OAS meeting and in Quebec City at the FTAA meeting will be treated differently from the kind of activity which is addressed in this particular legislation. That is one of the concerns we bring to the table, because we know that it is a concern out there within a certain constituency in the Canadian public.

In the end, all of this is really a question of trust. It is really a question of not what the legislation says and not what the government says, but whether or not Canadians trust that the spirit and the letter of the law will be followed and not in some way or another abused. That is really what is at stake here. No amount of citing the relevant clauses of the bill and saying that something cannot happen will do. If people believe out of their own experience or from reading or learning about the experiences of others that either the government or the police have an inclination in some circumstances to abuse powers and to treat as unlawful that which is lawful, then they find themselves in a position of not being able to give the kind of approval they would otherwise probably like to give.

All Canadians feel there are things that need to be done, particularly in the parts of the bill that have to do with the ratification and implementation of the UN conventions. That is not something that anyone is taking any issue with at all. There are other things in the bill that are more problematic and which need to be further discussed, explored and explained in committee.

We need to hear from Canadians who have concerns about particular aspects of the bill. We want to have a good process in committee where time is taken to hear from these Canadians so they can put their concerns on the record and so that we might even be able to amend the legislation, if necessary, if that is the will of the committee.

I would like to deal with the issue of trust. The definition of a terrorist activity, not the one that comes out of the UN conventions but the one which the government has put into the bill, in section 83.01 states:

(b) an act or omission, in or outside of Canada,

(i) that is committed

(A) in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause, and

(B) in whole or in part with the intention of intimidating the public, or a segment of the public, with regard to its security, including its economic security, or compelling a person, a government or a domestic or an international organization to do or to refrain from doing any act, whether the person, government or organization is inside or outside Canada, and

(ii) that is intended

(A) to cause death or serious bodily harm to a person by the use of violence,

(B) to endanger a person's life,

(C) to cause a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or any segment of the public,

(D) to cause substantial property damage, whether to public or private property, if causing such damage is likely to result in the conduct or harm referred to in any of the clauses (A) to (C) and (E), or

(E) to cause serious interference with or serious disruption of an essential service, facility or system, whether public or private, other than as a result of lawful advocacy, protest, dissent or stoppage of work that does not involve an activity that is intended to result in the conduct or harm referred to in any of clauses (A) to (C).

These are the clauses having to do with death or serious bodily harm, endangering a person's life or causing a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or any segment of the public.

At first reading one might be tempted to think that pretty well covers it because the government has said that as long as it has to do with lawful advocacy, protest, dissent or stoppage of work and does not involve these other terrible things then everything is fine.

However, there are a couple of problems I would like to explore further in committee. I am not making a final judgment on the particular clause. For example, it does raise the question of what is lawful advocacy, protest, dissent or stoppage of work.

If it were clear as to what was lawful and what was not, then there would not be a problem. However there is such a thing as an unlawful stoppage of work or an illegal strike. The law is now able to deal with them, but it would be a legitimate concern that illegal stoppages of work might somehow fall under the ambit of this if other criteria were met. These are the kinds of things I hope to ask the minister and others about in committee.

What is lawful? Lawful sounds good but a lot of young people thought they were engaged in lawful protest in Quebec City way beyond the perimeter and not challenging the wall or engaging in any property damage or anything like that. They were just sitting around, talking to each other, when all of a sudden they were tear gassed, fired upon with rubber bullets and treated as if they were doing something unlawful.

This comes back to trust and I think it is regrettable. I would prefer that we were dealing with anti-terrorism legislation in a context of trust where all Canadians could feel they did not have a government that was careless about their civil liberties and right to lawful protest. Instead we are unfortunately not just dealing with the context of September 11, which should be the overriding concern, but the backdrop for this in the minds of a lot of Canadians is APEC and Quebec City.

One thing the government has to do is persuade those Canadians who have scepticism arising out of those experiences that this is entirely different and that this would not be used to harass legitimate protestors or get in the way of legitimate protests.

That brings me to the next concern that my party has which deals with the notion of preventive arrest. It is just a concern at this point. We know that in certain circumstances over the last few years certain people who were known to be participating in protests were all of a sudden charged with something, detained, and were not able to be at the protest. I will not mention any names but this is a known fact.

The minister said in her speech, and it is stated in the legislation, that the preventive arrest issue is not arrest without warrant forever and ever. The person would have to appear before a judge after 24 hours and could be detained for another 48 hours. It is only a judge who can order further detention and then only if the person is unwilling to meet the conditions laid down by the judge.

I understand all of that. That does not mean to say that in the wrong hands this could not be used as a way to harass people who were planning on attending certain events and suddenly find themselves the object of this provision.

I know the minister said the legislation is not intended for that sort of thing at all, and I hope it is not. I even believe that it is not in the minister's mind. I am trying to convey the spirit of scepticism that exists among a great many people arising out of the experiences over the last few years. There would not be any more need to trump up charges against anybody because this provision in Bill C-36 could be used.

Another concern I have was raised by the member for Provencher. It deals with the use of the phrase anything damaging to “international relations” as a reason for non-disclosure when it pertains to information made available in the context of various investigations, hearings or determinations by the government.

The member for Provencher said that this was a very broad category. Almost anything could be construed as damaging international relations. We experienced this in the past when the government felt obliged to uncritically accept the views of other governments with respect to activity happening in Canada.

I remember controversies some years ago when the Sikh community in Canada found itself at odds with the government because it was taking the view of the government of India as the uncritical truth about what was happening there or the uncritical truth about what was happening within that community here.

As long as we have communities in Canada that are concerned about struggles and conflicts in other countries, there will inevitably be a divergence of opinion in many circumstances between what people here believe and what the government there believes. It does not mean that either of them are particularly malevolent in this respect. It is just a fact of life that there will be a divergence of opinion.

What this could possibly suggest is that for any disclosure of information that would be found unacceptable or unfriendly to a foreign government with which Canada wanted to maintain good relations, we could not disclose it in the context that the bill is describing. That is another concern which we will have to explore at committee because the views of other governments are not always pristine, balanced or objective, or certainly they may be different from views held in Canada either by a particular group of Canadians or by Canadians in general.

There has been much said about preserving the balance between liberty and security. We must not just respect Canadian values in this regard. We need to respect Canadian values as set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The government claims that it has done this. We will want to hear evidence about this in committee and perhaps debate among ourselves whether this bill meets that challenge.

In fairness to the government and to the charter, the charter has already had its effect on this legislation. My understanding is that the bill does not go as far as the British anti-terrorism legislation. This is because we have a Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Britain does not. That may well be the reason for the difference. For example, intellectual support for terrorist groups or causes associated with terrorism, or even membership in certain organizations, is not proscribed by in Bill C-36.

The charter has already done its work in changing what might otherwise have been brought before us by the government. It is still legitimate to ask whether or not what we have before us is not so much charter proof but whether it corresponds to what the charter demands of us.

I suggest to the government that it consider whether or not the bill should be referred to the Supreme Court of Canada at the same time as it is being debated and studied in the House of Commons and pre-studied in the Senate. As we know, the Senate will begin to study the bill at the same time as the House is seized of it, which is an unusual procedure, but it is being done so that the bill can be passed expeditiously.

Why would the government not consider referring the bill to the Supreme Court of Canada for an urgent judgment, not at its leisure but within the same framework of time as the House is dealing with the bill? If the House can deal with it and the Senate can deal with it, surely the supreme court could deal with it. Then we would not need this debate about whether or not the legislation meets the requirements of the charter.

Another matter I would like to raise and which I hope we will be able to consider in committee has to do with the whole question of whether or not certain aspects of the bill should be sunsetted. The bill provides for a parliamentary review after three years.

We live in extraordinary circumstances. It might be advisable to consider that what seems acceptable today to the government, to a majority of the House or perhaps to everyone ultimately, might not seem acceptable or necessary in a year or two.

Therefore, because I have seen these parliamentary reviews before and they tend not to mean very much, there might be some need to consider looking at a sunset clause instead of having a parliamentary review.

Finally, we need to consider the whole matter of resources, because all of this will be for naught if we do not give the agencies charged with these responsibilities the resources they need. In that respect we have to redress the damage that has been done to the public sector in so many ways by the government ever since it took office in 1993.

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.


John Bryden Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Madam Speaker, the member for Winnipeg--Transcona has anticipated some of the concerns that I will be putting forward myself when my turn comes to make remarks.

He mentioned the problem of protests and worried about whether the legislation applied to proper protest movements, labour marches and that kind of thing. I wonder, does he think the legislation should apply to protest movements where violence is planned, where it is deliberate?

I do not think APEC is a good example, but Quebec is a good example of where protesters actually deliberately organized assaults on the police lines, if you will, and there was a deliberate planned intention to use violence. Should that type of individual come under the ambit of this act?

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I want to find out from the government members whether they feel that kind of individual falls under the ambit of the act. Regardless of whether or not such an individual would fall under the act, we have always made it clear that what we are trying to defend here and what we use as our benchmark for analyzing the bill and other things is the right of Canadians to legitimate peaceful protest and dissent.

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his very thoughtful commentary. I was particularly happy to hear his suggestion that the legislation should include some form of sunset clause. Of course if necessary it could always be re-enacted by parliament with any necessary amendments to take care of any flaws that would have become evident after a couple of years in operation. I am glad he made that point.

In looking at this, does the hon. member have any specific examples that he has seen in the past in his lengthy parliamentary experience where by this sort of clause has been used effectively? Could he suggest a more concrete way in which this would be appropriate for this legislation?

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am not sure to which clause the member is referring. I am not sure whether he is referring to the clause in the bill having to do with parliamentary review or whether he is referring to a clause that is not yet in the bill having to do with sunsetting.

In either case, clauses having to do with parliamentary review are ultimately upheld. That is to say the review takes place. Sometimes it does not take place on time. Sometimes there are good reasons for that because the committee that needs to do the review might be seized with something more important or whatever. Sometimes it does not take place because the government is not particularly interested in that happening right away so it is delayed.

However, it is only a parliamentary review when a committee makes recommendations. Again, as is the case in our system, the government is not required to respond to whatever the parliamentary review comes up with. A committee could look at it and say that it is not working, that it has turned out to be an overreaction or that it has led to curtailment of freedoms that we did not intend, et cetera. Yet nothing happens because there is no obligation on the part of the government to implement whatever recommendations come out of a parliamentary review.

The advantage of a sunset clause would be that the government would be obliged to reintroduce the legislation. Therefore it would be forced, if you like, to use the opportunity if it wanted to, to take certain things out, to amend certain things, or for that matter to add to the legislation. That seems to me to be the advantage of a sunset clause over a parliamentary review clause.