House of Commons Hansard #96 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was security.


Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I wish to inform the House that because of the ministerial statement government orders will be extended by 10 minutes.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, on September 6 the Minister of Justice amended the firearms fees regulations by order in council waiving the fee for registering firearms under certain conditions. I give reference to the Canada Gazette , Part 2, Volume 135, No. 20 SOR/2001-336.

In making these amendments the minister bypassed parliament and avoided using the laying of proposed regulations stipulated in section 118 of the Firearms Act. She did so by using the authority granted her under section 119(3) of the act which states in part:

--if the federal Minister is of the opinion that the making of the regulation is so urgent that section 118 should not be applicable in the circumstances.

Section 119(4) of the Firearms Act states:

Where the federal Minister forms the opinion described in subsection (2) or (3), he or she shall have a statement of the reasons why he or she formed that opinion laid before each house of Parliament.

The minister has had six weeks to explain to the House why it was so urgent to bypass parliament with the regulations. To date, the minister has failed to comply with section 119(4) of the Firearms Act. I appeal to the Speaker to ask the minister when her statement of reasons will be tabled in the House.

I realize that the Speaker does not normally rule on matters involving constitutional law or the common law. However in cases where the constitution or common law contain procedural requirements I believe it is the Speaker's duty to ensure that they are enforced.

The House, through the enactment of section 119(4) of the Firearms Act, ordered the minister to make a statement of reasons and table it in the House of Commons. She has failed to do this, once again showing disrespect for parliament.

I refer the House to Joseph Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada , page 14, which states:

--the Senate and the House of Commons have the power or right to punish actions that, while not appearing to be breaches of any specific privilege, are offences against their authority or dignity. These may include disobedience to their legitimate commands--

The minister is in danger of being in contempt for a third time. Not only that, she expects gun owners in Canada to obey a law she herself has not complied with.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The Chair has heard the point of order by the hon. member. We will take it under advisement and come back to the House as soon as possible.

The House resumed from October 16 consideration of the motion 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.

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Canadian Alliance Prince Albert, SK

Madam Speaker, the anti-terrorist legislation is a substantive, complex piece of legislation which attempts to balance two very important interests: the interests of security and the interests of our liberty and openness. This is not an easy task. CA members will be proceeding in committee with their ears and eyes open and their minds cognizant of the task at hand. As the bill proceeds into committee, it is also incumbent upon all members of the House to realize the seriousness of this task and to do the balancing that is required.

There are many things we should be cautious of as we move in this direction. Clearly, in the interests of security, we are going to have to modify some of the liberties and freedoms and we are going to be transferring more power to the state. Any time we transfer power from the people, the individuals in our society, to the state, we should be cautious. I think everyone remembers what Lord Acton said a while back in British history, that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It was true then and it is true today.

Although corruption and abuse of powers exist in democracies, they are far less a problem than in those societies dominated by authoritarian regimes. It is clear we will not make our society purer, safer or less corrupt by simply granting more powers to the state.

When looking at this legislation, we have to take a serious look at a thing called unintended consequences and to limit that possibility. For example, trade unions may be a bit apprehensive of this sort of legislation. The power of a strike can have a disrupting effect on the economy and society and we can get into problems in that area.

There are activists on both sides of the fence, right and left, who are not in terrorist groups. They are strongly trying to advocate their positions in a democratic society. In these times it is very easy for people to include more than terrorists in the ambit of terrorism.

We have to understand another point, too. One of the objectives of the other side in this war on terrorism is to attack our open and free society. If our methods of fighting back have the effect of destroying our openness and our freedom, I wonder what we have achieved.

What is the proper balance between these two competing interests? I do not think there is an absolute answer but I am going to raise some considerations which I think we should be looking at.

There is nothing called an absolute right in this world. There is no such thing. Freedoms and individual freedoms have always been tempered by public good and the freedoms of other people in our society. One need look no further than the famous U.S. supreme court decision of Justice Holmes where he stated that freedom of speech stops when a person stands up in a crowded theatre and yells “fire”. That type of reasoning is what we have to be looking at in our war against terrorism, what that balance is.

Much is said about rights. Much is said about the charter of rights. Section 7 of the charter identifies two rights that we have as individuals in the country, the right to life and the right to security of the person. Obviously terrorists have no respect for either of those. In order to protect those two rights we may have to moderate or compromise some of the other rights that we take for granted.

We must be concerned with unintended consequences and guard against them. Section 183 leaves a lot of discretion to the government to decide what is a terrorist organization and what is not. I think the decision will be made behind closed doors. There will not be a lot of accountability on it. There will be a lot of leeway in that area. There are people who are concerned that groups that are terrorist groups may not be classified as such for political reasons. That is one side of the sword. The other side of the sword is that groups that are not terrorists may be identified as such for political or other reasons. These are concerns.

Let me be clear that the actions of the terrorists violate a lot of existing laws. The entire criminal code must have been violated by the actions in New York and Washington, so there are laws in place. In the House very often we think the solution to problems is to pass more laws and regulations and that will win the war, but that is something we have to be careful of. It is going to take more than laws to win this war.

It is quite apparent to anyone who looks at the situation that holes in the immigration system and the security systems are largely responsible for some of these problems. The U.S. has spent something like $10 billion on immigration and security systems, however 19 hijackers and hundreds of others moved freely in and out of North America monitoring their subjects, studying up on them and even getting the training they did and no one seemed to know what was going on. The intelligence agency was literally caught with its pants down.

Somewhere along the line in this politically correct age someone said it was not right to send spies and informants into groups. Back in the 1950s and 1960s when intelligence agencies did these sorts of things we would have been aware of the threat and the danger of these groups and would have been better prepared. It is incumbent upon us to focus on the target and marshal our resources and aim them right at the target rather than shooting off in all sorts of directions.

More intrusive laws may be the answer. However the immigration system is an area where we have to close loopholes and do things a lot differently. We are going to have to hire more people. We will have to have more resources. We are going to have to use information a lot better.

I recall in the House last February or March when we were dealing with the Amodeo situation. Mr. Amodeo had moved in and out of the country 17 times, if I recall correctly. Three ministers responded. The solicitor general basically said he does not monitor what is going on in his department and the RCMP does not co-ordinate its activities with the immigration department. The immigration minister said her people do not communicate with the RCMP. This thing went around and around.

In fact when Amodeo's wife came into the country the immigration minister even said that we do not ask questions about their marital status or their husbands because that would violate some right that she thought was important. This has to stop.

Buck passing is not going to win the war against terrorism. The buck stops in this House. We have to get our act together, quit protecting our turf and our territory and quit passing things around in a circle. Somebody has to take responsibility.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Leeds—Grenville Ontario


Joe Jordan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Madam Speaker, there have been consultations among the House leaders and I think if you seek it, you would find consent for the following motion. I move:

That the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations be authorized to travel to the Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto on October 18 and that the necessary staff accompany the committee.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

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

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed from consideration of the motion 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.

Anti-Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2001 / 3:40 p.m.


Paul Bonwick Liberal Simcoe—Grey, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to start my debate on terrorism by quoting the Prime Minister, as it captures the feelings of Canadians very well. He stated:

Our enemies have made a fatal miscalculation. They have mistaken our freedom for weakness. They have mistaken our openness and generosity for a lack of spine. They have mistaken our values for a lack of resolve. And they will be proven wrong -- on every count.

I believe that encapsulates the events of September 11 and our response to those events both in the United States and Canada, and for that matter terrorism around the world.

I thank the Prime Minister and the House leader for providing me yet another opportunity to address my concerns and comments to the House and to Canadians. There has been in excess of 40 hours of debate and discussion surrounding our proposed anti-terrorism legislation.

I would like to touch on three specific issues regarding the anti-terrorism debate. First, I will shed some light on the act itself. Second, I will address the response from the opposition parties. Third, I will address our overriding responsibilities as Canadians and as a government.

What I have to say about the act will clear up some misconceptions that have been brought forward by the Alliance. The purpose or intent of the anti-terrorism bill is to specifically identify, prosecute, convict and punish terrorists. It provides new investigative tools for law enforcement and national security agencies. What is very important is that it ensures Canadian values of respect and fairness are preserved and the root causes of hatred are addressed through stronger laws against hate crimes and propaganda.

Terrorism can only succeed if it accomplishes four basic things. First, if it creates a lack of confidence in Canadians or free thinking people with respect to their economy, they will achieve success in some small part. Second, if they compromise our sense of security, they achieve a bit of success on that part. Third, if they transfer the hate in their hearts into ours, they accomplish in some small bit their resolve. Fourth and most important, if they cause us to forgo some of our civil liberties, some of the things enshrined in our charter of rights and our constitution, then they truly succeed.

That is the delicate balance I want to address in the House today. I will certainly carry that message back to my riding as well. It is a delicate balance between civil liberties and the number one priority and challenge of a government, the protection of its citizens. The government has risen to that challenge.

The government has moved in a very methodical fashion in making sure that Canadians have the protection and receive the security they deserve in the country contrary to much of the untruths, speculations and fearmongering that has surrounded this debate.

The main objective of the anti-terrorism bill is to stop terrorism from getting into Canada and to protect Canadians from terrorist acts. That is the overriding theme of this piece of legislation. It would bring forward the tools to identify, prosecute, convict and punish terrorists. It would prevent the Canada-U.S. border from being held hostage by terrorists, impacting not only on our society but specifically on our economy. This piece of legislation lays that out very effectively.

I am sure many interesting points will be brought forward in committee. I look forward to seeing what the committee brings back to the House. I urge my colleagues in the opposition parties to work in a non-partisan fashion to make sure the legislation gets back into the House, so that we can pass the bill into law and provide the necessary security and support for the citizens of Canada. If the opposition parties drop their partisan approach that will happen.

I present the next issue with a heavy heart. Most of the people in the House and back in my riding know that I do not often challenge the ideas of the opposition. I normally do not show any disrespect for its views because if I show disrespect I cannot expect it to respect my ideas and values. However I have to demonstrate a precedent and speak against the opposition.

There have been a tremendous number of falsehoods surrounding this debate. The Leader of the Opposition says that he is taking the high road, that he will support his Prime Minister, and that there will be less rhetoric in the House surrounding many of these issues.

However the exact opposite is taking place. It disturbs me greatly and I cannot help it. I do feel sympathy for the fact that the majority of Canadians at this point in time are not supporting the Alliance, but that is no excuse for fearmongering or hot button politics.

Every member in the House of Commons has a responsibility to Canadians to come together in this time of crisis against this ultimate evil. They have a responsibility to work collectively to ensure the security of the country.

It is not just about military action. It is about a number of different things. It is about stability in the economy. It is not about painting various immigrant communities in our country with a brush of evil or as terrorists. That is an absolute shame. It is a travesty that those kinds of discussions have been taking place in the House.

We have heard much doom and gloom from the opposition. Our responsibility is to instill confidence in Canadians from coast to coast to coast to make sure they get on with their lives and that the necessary tools are in place so that our economy is not adversely impacted in a significant fashion. Many of the comments coming from the opposition contradict that idea at its base to the greatest extent possible.

I am speaking on behalf of the vast majority if not all Canadians when I say that we must lay down a rule right now. Enough is enough. We need to work in a collective, non-partisan fashion to make sure that Canadians get the level of protection they deserve. I make a pledge to the House and to the 30 or so million people living in the country that I will do everything in my ability as a parliamentarian and as a Canadian to make sure we deal with this terrorist threat.

The last issue I want to touch on is our responsibility as parliamentarians but primarily as Canadians. We have an obligation not only to ourselves but to future generations not to let these evildoers and cowards impact our lives in such a fashion that we would be afraid to make trips and to follow through on the normal plans our families would make whether it be a house, car or furniture purchase, or whatever it may be.

If we let these terrorist activities impact us in that fashion then they win in some small way. Canadians should rise up with the sense of confidence that our economy has the right tools in place.

Our finance minister is looked upon internationally as one of the greatest finance ministers in history, not simply for Canada but around the world. The Canadian economy is in great shape to move forward and deal with this situation with him at the helm of our finances. There is an incumbent responsibility on all Canadians to make sure that they do move forward with their plans.

I have one of the largest training bases in Canada in my riding. I extend my best wishes to the men and women in the military; Colonel Reid, the base commander; and all the troops leaving from Halifax today for engagement in the Middle East. On behalf of all 301 members of parliament, the 120,000 people in my riding, and the 30-some million people in Canada, our hearts and our prayers are with them.

We want to make sure that this battle is won effectively. We appreciate the commitment shown to our country and we wish them a safe and quick return. We thank the men and women in our military for their absolutely patriotic effort in defending our country.

Anti-Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very impressed at having the opportunity to speak to Bill C-36. When we were elected last year, we were all given the mandate to represent our fellow citizens. I do not think anyone here in this House expected to be carrying out this type of debate. We have a heavy responsibility in doing so.

This is the debate on second reading. It is important to bear in mind that, at second reading, the debate focuses on the principle of the bill, What is involved, then, is the balance between the battle against terrorism and the defence of human rights, between the security that must be in place and freedom, the respect of the right of citizens in this society to act, and their protection in their dealings with the machinery of government and the justice system.

This is, therefore, a very important substantive debate. It is also one that leads us to much consideration of the matter of good faith. Today the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice have both admitted that this bill may have been prepared a little hastily and that there may be some elements that will need to be looked at in the committee and report stages.

The bill includes elements of interest. We will have to listen very carefully to the witnesses who come to tell us what they think of this legislation. People such as members of the bar, for example, may deal with the bill's implications and impact, and with the protection of human rights. Others will also address the issue of security and the importance of having an anti-terrorism act.

In light of the September 11 events, I think we agree on the need for strong and decisive action. We must eradicate terrorism and one of the tools at our disposal is the proper use of legislation. We have a duty to ensure the protection not only of the public, but also of its rights. This is why the Bloc Quebecois has adopted a very responsible attitude.

Many aspects of this bill deserve to be examined very thoroughly. I am thinking, for example, of the definition of a terrorist activity. Because of the need to act quickly, we may have a definition that will lead to abuse. We will have to ensure that there a proper balance is struck between police forces' ability to act and the assurance that all honest citizens in our society will nevertheless be protected. This is a very important aspect that needs to be thoroughly examined in committee. This issue is not an easy one. We must give it very careful consideration.

Another very important element is the fact that we are faced with an exceptional situation. We would not want our society to have to take such strong action as a matter of course. We are faced with a urgent problem which we all hope will disappear over time.

Therefore, perhaps we should consider having an act that will be in effect for a limited time only. This would ensure that when the threat of terrorism no longer exists, when we are in control again and when public security is ensured, there will be a time limit so that the government will not use on a permanent and regular basis means that we do not wish to see used in our society. So, we should determine whether this bill could include specific provisions that would lapse over time and not be of a permanent nature. Are there others provisions that deserve to be of a permanent nature?

For example, numerous aspects of the international conventions that were signed should be maintained. However, there may be other elements for which this is not necessary.

For instance, if access to information mechanisms are retained, is what we are asking acceptable, if the government approves revocation of the powers of the privacy commissioner in order to take them over itself? I do not think anyone in the House would dare introduce such a proposal under normal circumstances. The question will have to be asked if the measure is to apply. Is it to apply to the medium term and is it renewable? The government should perhaps make sure that certain elements have a time frame in the legislation and that, as we have asked, there will be an annual review of the law.

The bill provides that the review will be at the end of three years. In this area, a lot of things can happen in three years. A lot of bad things can happen. I think the government would do better to pay careful attention, that is have an annual review.

The bill will be passed soon, this fall, before the Christmas holidays, and then, in the coming year, action may have to be taken. There must be follow-up in committee. Next year, when parliament resumes, we would have to assess whether we did what had to be done, whether government had gone far enough and whether certain things should be corrected. These elements are important.

I would also like to speak to the question of wiretapping. Today, in question period, it became clear that simply defining which laws cover this aspect is not clear. Things are not entirely clear. Does it mean issuing a blank cheque and permitting things, which, after a while, could be used for something totally different from terrorism surveillance? These questions must be asked. It is a matter of responsibility to do so; it has nothing to do with impeding the work of parliament.

In examining this bill, I believe that the Bloc Quebecois has had a very responsible attitude. We have not blocked the bill. We believe that we must take time to study the bill seriously and carefully. There are many elements to consider.

Perhaps it is of less importance, but Bill C-16 on charities, a bill with some substantive problems, has been integrated into the bill. We must use the opportunity to examine these issues carefully at committee in order to see if improvements can be made in this area.

Once again, this is extraordinary legislation for a society that should normally be able to function without this type of legislation. We agree that Canadians must know that steps are indeed being taken to fight against terrorism, but that we will ensure there will be a balanced approach at the same time.

Given all of these points, I think we must proceed with care. The committee must be allowed to do its work as well and as seriously as it can, and must hear advice and ensure balance at all times.

The debate at second reading is on whether or not this bill should be studied in committee. According to Marleau and Montpetit's House of Commons Procedure and Practice , and I quote:

--passage of the motion for second reading simply implied that the House had given preliminary consideration to the bill and that, without any commitment as to the final passage of the bill, it had authorized its reference to a committee for detailed scrutiny.

Particularly important bills such as this test the entire system. They test our parliamentary procedures. This is a bill which merits careful attention. It is a bill which asks us to consider the good will of the parties in the House.

The Prime Minister said that this bill deserved serious consideration. We expect that, when it returns from committee, there will be suggestions for amendments which could make it much more effective and bring it more sharply into line with the stated objectives.

When the committee has done its work, it will be up to us to say whether or not the new form it sends us is acceptable. We will also have report stage to evaluate the result of the committee's work and, finally, debate at third reading.

Throughout this process, the Bloc Quebecois considers it very important that it be possible to improve the bill at each stage in order to make it acceptable, useful and desirable to our society in the present special context. We must not forget that it is also a piece of legislation that may have an impact on human rights legislation for a long time to come.

The international crisis we are now experiencing will have repercussions not just on security, but also on the protection of rights for the future. We must devote whatever time and energy is necessary to make this the best legislation possible. We must be attentive to the requirements submitted so that we end up with a balanced bill.

This must be our objective: a bill that strikes the right balance between the fight against terrorism and respect for human rights. This is what I hope we will do together, with a minimum of partisan politics, so that ultimately we have an opportunity to produce an excellent tool to help in the fight against terrorism and the defence of human rights.

Anti-Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.


Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise today to address this very important anti-terrorism bill, Bill C-36. I happen to believe that this is historic legislation and certainly one of the most important we will deal with in this the 37th parliament.

Many people have said, and I very much agree with them, that society and the world have changed as a result of the events on September 11. We watched in horror as 6,000 people lost their lives. We watched in horror at the kind of terrorist attacks that were perpetrated on our friend, neighbour and ally to the south, the United States. We all wondered what was going to happen next.

I was pleased to see, in concert with my constituents in Waterloo--Wellington, that there was a kinship of grief around the world that developed in concert with the victims and their families in New York, Washington, D.C. and the surrounding states, as well as Pennsylvania.

I believe that in our effort to deal with grief we pass through a number of stages. I think it is fair to say that sadness and despair, fear and anger are some of those stages but after a while we come to resolve, and I think that is where we are now at.

One of the ways to deal with tragedy, especially in this fashion, is to become determined and resolved to make sure it never happens again. That is why I thought the Prime Minister spoke very well the other day when he talked about getting together the kind of resolve necessary to carry forward in a very meaningful way and to act on behalf of all Canadians in concert with what they believe are fundamental and core values, not only for this country and the people of this great country but for other freedom loving people around the world.

As members know, the member states of the United Nations have joined in a common purpose, and that is to shut down terrorism. Canada, like our international partners, must move on all fronts. It is important to note that we are prepared to do that.

In recent days we have seen increased security measures adopted at our airports. The assets of Osama bin Laden and his associates, the people who have brought about such destruction, have been frozen. The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution on September 28 calling on states to work together urgently to prevent and suppress terrorist acts, including increased co-operation and full implementation of the important and relevant international conventions relating to terrorism, such as the convention on the financing of terrorism.

In response, the Canadian government has acted and acted with caution, noting full well that we need to think through our actions, and has implemented new regulations to target terrorist financing. The proposed anti-terrorism act that we are debating today further criminalizes the act of contributing to terrorist groups.

I said that it is essential to act on all fronts if we are going to defeat terrorism, and I meant that. Where do legislative strategies fit into this picture? We need new and more focused tools to allow the justice system to fight terrorism. We are not dealing here with ordinary criminals. We need to build a new legal framework that will disable terrorist networks and prevent them from developing the capability of financing, planning and carrying out their attacks on society and, by extension, on democracy.

The proposed anti-terrorism act that we are debating today implements the international convention on the suppression of terrorism and the international convention on the suppression of terrorist bombings. These are important measures in keeping with our international obligations.

New criminal code offences are created for participating in, facilitating or carrying out terrorist activities. Procedures are established for the seizure, the restraint and the forfeiture of property belonging to terrorist groups. We mean it when we say it. That is the point. We are getting tough because we need to. We need to act accordingly because that is what Canada needs to do to defend the precious system that we have.

Bill C-36 also proposes criminal code provisions to establish, by establishment and by regulation, a list of terrorist entities.

This measure will allow identification of entities that are clearly involved or associated with terrorist activities. The notion of listing terrorist organizations has its precedent in the United Nations and, indeed, Canada's United Nations Act already adopts lists of terrorists and terrorist organizations identified by the United Nations last year, including those of Osama bin Laden. The point is that we have the precedent and we are acting accordingly.

I want to go into this listing procedure a little more if I may, because this measure is one of the most important elements of the bill. I urge all members of the House as well as the members of the justice committee to examine this measure closely.

The placing of any organization or purpose on the list of terrorist groups is a very elaborate procedure, as it should be. Section 83.05 of the criminal code as proposed in Bill C-36 provides that the ultimate decision to add a name to the list is made by the governor in council. There must be “reasonable grounds” to do so, to believe that the entity, a group, a person or whatever, either “has carried out, attempted to carry out, participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity” or has acted “on behalf of, at the direction of or in association with” such an entity.

Thus the clear focus of this procedure is on establishing that the group or individual has been engaged in terrorism. This is how it should be, because this clarifies in a way that is consistent with what I believe to be the values of Canada and consistent with the values of the great charter of rights and freedoms that we in this country enjoy.

I want to emphasize too that additional safeguards are built into this process. Before the governor in council makes a decision the solicitor general must first be satisfied, again on reasonable grounds, that there is such terrorist activity occurring. Furthermore, a group that wishes to challenge its presence on the list may apply to the solicitor general to have its name removed. If the solicitor general does not remove the name, the group can apply to a judge for a review of that decision. Mechanisms are also established to address cases of mistaken identity. In any event, the solicitor general must review the list every two years in order to recommend that a listed entity remain on the list or in fact be removed.

It should be noted also that the bill also contains a detailed definition of terrorist activity and a specific offence related to participating in, facilitating, harbouring and instructing terrorist activity. Again, I urge my colleagues to look closely at the details of this definition since it is at the very heart of what the bill does. Expressed another way, Bill C-36 is premised on a clear focus on terrorist crimes and it breaks new ground in Canadian law in its willingness to embrace a distinct set of definitions. It is important, therefore, that we find consensus on these very important concepts.

A terrorist activity as described in proposed section 83.01 includes acts that would amount to an offence under one of the international anti-terrorist conventions to which Canada is committed, but it is also defined as “an act or omission” inside or outside Canada that is committed “in whole or in part, for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause”. It is evident that having such a religious or ideological purpose should not in itself be an offence. It is only when this purpose is linked with an intention to intimidate the public or a segment of the public with regard to its security and is also linked to an intention to cause death or serious bodily harm by the use of violence that it becomes a terrorist activity. There are also other factors that come into play, including an intention to endanger a person's life or to cause substantial property damage with serious harm resulting to a person.

Finally, I would like to return to my original question: What is the role of our laws in fighting terrorism and increasing our sense of security from terrorists? I suggest that the law, or more precisely the rule of law, is an important reference point for Canadians in assessing what needs to be done to protect our society from those who indeed do not respect the law or civilized values.

At the end of the day, Bill C-36, the bill we are debating today, is an effective measure that should be looked at closely and in fact will be looked at closely at the justice committee. There may or may not be amendments based on what the members think and the witnesses say, but when it comes down to it, I hope we will act as one, as the Parliament of Canada, in a way consistent with the values not only of the charter of rights and freedoms but the values of all Canadians.

We will do so in the best interests of this great country of ours, based on safety and security for the citizens of Canada and for those in the wider world and in that community who believe in the fundamental rights of liberty, freedom and democracy.

Anti-Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, on September 11 the world changed, but after observing the actions of the government last month I am wondering whether Liberals have changed enough.

While I as a Canadian support an aggressive campaign to combat terrorism in Canada and abroad, as a parliamentarian I have grave concerns. I have grave concerns, first about what is in this bill, second about what is not in this bill, and third about the government's track record in violating the rights and freedoms of law abiding citizens. I will spend the rest of my time explaining these three points.

My first concern is that this terrorism bill shifts the public, the media and parliament's focus to increasing the government's legislative powers rather than to the more pressing problem of lack of resources committed to fighting terrorism and government's misplaced priorities.

On Monday on national television Mr. Reid Morden, the former head of CSIS, stated:

I think that CSIS has sufficient powers under the CSIS act to do its job now if it has the resources to do it. That's always been the problem with both CSIS and the RCMP. They have lots of powers. They certainly don't have enough trained bodies.

I know where they can get more resources and I know where they can get more people to help them do the job. I will explain.

While parliament is focused on the legality and the appropriateness of this anti-terrorism legislation, there is a real danger that we are missing the real priority, which is that the RCMP, CSIS and our Canadian forces need more staff, more training and more equipment.

There is evidence that the government still has not realized what the real public safety priorities are. Here are a couple of glaring examples which I will explain. These are examples of misplaced priorities. Last week the RCMP participated in a roadblock in Alberta, checking hunters for firearm licences. Duck hunters are not a threat to public safety; terrorists are. Also, three weeks ago six RCMP officers raided an office of the Responsible Firearms Owners Coalition of B.C. for putting up signs during last November's election, allegedly in contravention of the Elections Act.

The musical ride has been redeployed to security of the nation so surely these highly trained RCMP officers in Alberta and B.C. should be redeployed as well, from their fight against duck hunters to the fight against terrorism.

The most recent data available through access to information shows that the government has 1,800 staff, a lot of RCMP officers, working on a totally useless gun registry instead of fighting the war against terrorism. The government has already spent over half a billion dollars to register tens of millions of legally owned guns and to license millions of totally innocent firearms owners instead of redirecting these human and financial resources to the fight against a real threat, terrorism.

Why not secure our borders? Why not do the things that the people of this country want to be priorities? Let us put our money where we will get the most bang for our buck.

Yesterday the justice minister gave this assurance to the national media. She stated:

Our legislation is fair in that we are not unwittingly and unintentionally, perhaps, involving those who are completely innocent either as individuals or organizations.

The hunters in Alberta who had their property seized by RCMP officers last week were completely innocent individuals until this government failed to issue licences to tens of thousands of gun owners who had applied for them. They tried to comply with the law and could not.

The responsible firearms owners of B.C. association was also a completely innocent organization until the government passed a gag law prohibiting free speech during an election campaign. This is the same gag law that is now being challenged in the courts while we are spending RCMP resources going after these people.

We have to examine the government's public assurances as closely as we do its legislation. I have had a lot of experience here in the last eight years and I speak from that. We have to examine the government's track record on other pieces of legislation it has passed before we accept its public assurances as a legal commitment.

The Canadian Bar Association, the Criminal Lawyers' Association of Ontario and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association have already raised concerns about what is in the bill.

The civil libertarians say the bill could erode democracy and cite the following provisions. First, it would permit the arrest of individuals without warrant if it is believed that would prevent terrorist activity; second, it would compel people to provide information related to terrorism to an investigating judge without charges being laid or a crime having been committed; third, it would reduce safeguards on obtaining and extending warrants for wiretaps; fourth, it would make it illegal to facilitate terrorist activity; and fifth, there would be the unprecedented creation of judicial investigatory hearings.

They even criticized the definition of terrorist activity itself. An article quoted Alan Borovoy of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, who said that in the past Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress would have been terrorists under the definition, while today the Kurds of Iraq would likely qualify in their battle against Saddam Hussein's repression. He stated:

I am hard-pressed to appreciate why all this has been considered necessary because I'm very aware of the considerable power that already exists.

He added that some of the relaxed rules for police surveillance are simply “a gratuitous undermining of safeguards” that will do nothing to apprehend terrorists.

These are serious concerns because, as I said before, the government has established a track record of violating rights and freedoms of law abiding citizens while in the pursuit of political priorities rather than public safety priorities.

As an example, just six weeks ago the privacy commissioner of Canada issued a report entitled “Review of the Personal Information Handling Practices of the Canadian Firearms Program”. I made some startling discoveries in this 81 page report. On pages 4 and 7 he reported that the justice minister had ignored the privacy commissioner's suggestions for years. On pages 4 and 5 the privacy commissioner says that the firearms registry ranges from a significant intrusion on privacy to highly intrusive. On pages 5 and 20 he reports that the justice minister has not implemented a promise made to parliament way back in 1997. On page 7 he reports that the justice minister has ignored two recommendations made by parliamentary committee. On page 10 he reports that the justice minister cannot provide a single point of accountability, as she promised. On page 19 the privacy commissioner disagrees with the justice minister's claim that all private and personal information is protected. On pages 20 and 21 he goes on to say that citizens may have to file up to five requests to access their personal information.

On pages 23 to 29 the privacy commissioner found that: the RCMP keeps a firearms interest police database on 3.5 million Canadians a secret from them; the RCMP is violating the Privacy Act with operations of the police information retrieval system; the RCMP firearms interest police database exceeds authority granted in section 5 of the Firearms Act; and the firearms interest police database on 3.5 million Canadians is full of unsubstantiated, derogatory information, unproven charges or allegations and hearsay, and even contains information on witnesses and victims. We must remember that this is a database authorized in 1995 by parliament with the passage of Bill C-68. This was the database that was only supposed to contain information on potentially dangerous individuals.

I cite all these examples to highlight the fact that we need to examine the legislation before us today. The justice minister and the government clearly have not kept their promises to safeguard the privacy rights of law abiding citizens.

What is my point? Laws passed without enough thought by the House and laws poorly implemented by government bureaucrats can result in the violation of privacy rights of law abiding citizens. This is why we have every right to be skeptical of the assurances the minister is giving us today about this piece of legislation. We must remember that the previous piece of legislation I cited was rammed through parliament using time allocation, ending all debate.

In violation of our citizens' privacy rights, Bill C-68 also violated the rights of millions of law abiding citizens, trampling on fundamental property rights, placing in jeopardy our charter of rights to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure, eliminating our right to remain silent, reversing the onus of proof and thereby eliminating our rights to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, infringing on the treaty rights of aboriginal people, and intruding unnecessarily into the exclusive constitutional jurisdiction of the provinces over property and civil rights.

I will conclude with what I said at the beginning of my speech. I have grave concerns about some of the things that are not in the bill. The government has not created a national sky marshal service for domestic passenger flights. That does not make sense. The government has not created a comprehensive national border protection service that would include ports police.

The government has not reinstated the death penalty for those convicted of causing death by acts of terrorism. The government has not provided for the extradition of criminals and terrorists using Canada as a safe haven, including extradition of any terrorist attempting to avoid the death penalty in other countries.

The government has not strengthened our deportation laws. The government has not provided safeguards in this legislation that would allow individuals and organizations unjustly caught by this legislation. It has not strengthened property rights. It has not included legislative commitments to provide the resources necessary to the RCMP, CSIS and defence. It has not included the legislation provision to make restitution to victims, and there is no--

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4:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre.

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4:25 p.m.


Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, it pleases me to be able to speak to Bill C-36. I want to congratulate the Minister of Justice and her team who put together such a comprehensive piece of legislation to deal with the terrorist threat here in Canada. It is a most impressive bill.

Bill C-36 finds the delicate balance of protecting our charter rights and our civil liberties, indeed protecting the essence of a democratic society, while ensuring greater security for our country and ourselves.

What we have before us is a strong response and one that effectively deals with the increased threats of terrorism within our borders. The full implementation of the bill will go a long way to see that terrorist operations are shut down within Canada.

With this new bill, we will be able to strike at the roots of terrorism. Bill C-36 would permit a court to order the removal of any hate propaganda from any public place or computer. This is a valuable tool in restricting messages which may incite others to commit violent acts based on any hate on another group of people.

Police agencies would have great ability to monitor the communications of terrorist factions and would be no longer constrained by the last hope clause and by the previous 60 day limitation on wiretap. They have been removed so we will be better protected from planned acts of terrorism.

We will also have the ability to cripple these terrorist organizations financially with the amendment to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act and the enactment of the charities registrations act. Preventing terrorists from accessing funds prevents them from committing acts of terror.

Terrorist acts are also being added to the criminal code. Collecting funds for terrorists, knowingly harbouring terrorists, participating in terrorist activities and instructing others to commit terrorist activities are soon all to be added to the criminal code as offences. These are serious crimes and they will carry serious penalties, up to life in prison. These sentences would ensure that those involved are incarcerated for a long period of time, no longer part of the loop of terrorist organizations to which they belong and hopefully it will no longer exist.

Even though overall I find the bill to be a formidable response to a challenging situation, I do have some matters that I hope the committee will address and provide guidance. These relate to the preventative arrest clauses of the bill. I am certain that the implementation of the preventative arrests will be an important tool for police officers to have in putting a halt to terrorist activities, and for that I am glad that these provisions are included in the bill.

I am concerned of the possibility of its implementation in the situation where no terrorism is planned. I am aware that the bill defines what is terrorist activity and what is a legitimate protest. However, as we have seen before, it is possible for a protest to escalate and suddenly once a peaceful gathering becomes filled with violence, all the result of the actions of a few individuals.

While I cannot stand here and say that violent protests are desirable or should be encouraged, I fear that the measures within the bill could run over and unwittingly implement themselves at one of these protests.

I do not believe that a protest, violent or otherwise, is a terrorist activity. I worry for the innocent people of which there are many within these protest groups. As I have stated it is a very small group that incite violence. However, it seems that all members of the larger group, in which the smaller one dwells, face the potential of suffering merely because they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This is not a new issue for Canada and it is one that will not go away. Because this is the case, we must ensure that the charter rights of the individuals who are no more than bystanders to the melee that is taking place beside them are protected. They should not see their democratic rights disappear because of this bill.

We must be vigilant to ensure that there are no provisions for them to be automatically arrested and detained for a minimum of 24 hours merely as preventative measures. There is nothing to prevent for the vast majority of the people. They are a peaceful lot who only wish to make their views known to others.

There are many cases where, as one mother said to me, they are among the best and the brightest. They have chosen to show up in support of a cause, not to incite violent or criminal acts and certainly none of them have terrorism on their mind.

I do not want to see the provisions of the bill used wrongly in a protest situation or the police easily exploit them. Even with the provision that the attorney general needs to approve of a preventative arrest, one hopes that no police officer can inappropriately circumvent this and seek the approval of the attorney general after an arrest is made.

Knowing that at any time they can be taken into custody by a police officer merely on the suspicion that they could involve themselves in a terrorist act is frightening many people. The bill would ensure legal protection for these people to go out and protest by themselves or with others. It is our responsibility to ensure that procedures are in place so that they do not risk a situation where they lose that right.

It is my hope that the committee will examine closely the amendment to section 83 of the criminal code. I have full confidence in its ability and I trust it will remove any remaining doubt concerning the definition of terrorist activity that may exist in relation to the protesting being swept in with this definition.

Time will perhaps be the truest test of what will happen with Bill C-36, and I am very pleased that the opportunity exists three years after royal assent to review the bill and its impact on society. I share some of the concerns expressed by others that the committee may see fit to implement a sunset clause on some of the provisions.

I hope that I am still an active member of the House when the time comes so that I can look back on the three years that Bill C-36 would have been in existence. I also hope that the Department of Justice and the committee takes not only a proactive role in recording the uses of these laws, but perhaps even considers a required reporting procedure for law enforcement officials.

With requirements such as these, we would be accurately able to see what impact these laws have on Canada and that they were not abused in any way.

When I sought election to this office for the first time in the fall of 2000, I could never have anticipated the awesome responsibility that I would find myself in as part of this body: the responsibility of balancing security and freedom and the responsibility of ensuring that our children continue to live in a free and democratic society that provides opportunities for all of its citizens.

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4:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Kamouraska--Rivière-du-Loup--Témiscouata--Les Basques, Canadian Airline Industry; and the hon. member for Vancouver East, Discrimination.

As this will be the first time the House holds adjournment proceedings since the changes to our standing orders, I would like to remind hon. members of the new system we have adopted.

A member raising a matter may speak for up to four minutes, as was the case in the past. The minister or the parliamentary secretary replying will now have up to four minutes to do so.

Then the hon. member raising the question and the minister or parliamentary secretary replying will each have one minute to respond. I therefore encourage all hon. members to prepare themselves accordingly.

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4:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Madam Speaker, the results of the terrorist attacks on September 11 and the subsequent perceived inadequate response of the Liberal government has led to some increased calls by United States legislators to tighten border security and entry requirements between our countries. However, the need of our government at this time is to try to focus not on the common border with the United States, but on securing our own shores against the terrorist threat.

A motion was put forward in the House on September 18, which stated:

That the House calls upon the government to introduce anti-terrorism legislation similar in principle to the United Kingdom's Terrorism Act 2000, and that such legislation provide for:

the naming of all known international terrorist organizations operating in Canada;

a complete ban on fundraising activities in support of terrorism, and provisions for the seizure of assets belonging to terrorists or terrorist organizations;

the immediate ratification of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism;

the creation of specific crimes for engaging in terrorist training activities in Canada or inciting terrorist acts abroad from Canada;

the prompt extradition of foreign nationals charged with acts of terrorism, even if the charges are capital offences; and

the detention and deportation to their country of origin of any people illegally in Canada or failed refugee claimants who have been linked to terrorist organizations.

I was very happy to join my opposition coalition colleagues in supporting the motion, but regrettably the Prime Minister and his fellow Liberal MP's voted against it, so the motion was defeated 199 to 70.

We see once again that, despite the best efforts of opposition MP's and our own security agencies, the government is refusing to change domestic policies according to the response that is required.

The Prime Minister's assertion that responsibility for the interdiction of terrorists entering the United States from Canada is that of U.S. border officials, merely illustrates his failure to recognize the responsibility of preventing such individuals from entering Canada in the first place. The border with our American neighbours involves the crossing of 500,000 people a day and over a billion dollars in trade on a daily basis. Effecting our border, impeding the flow of goods and services and people across the border will obviously be detrimental to the economies of both our countries.

Tighter border control does not address the underlying security risks associated with the loopholes in Canada's immigration and refugee system that are being exploited. That is not to suggest that the problem is with Canada's willingness to accept genuine refugees and immigrants, rather it is a legitimate and longstanding concern that the system itself fails to guard against those who abuse the loopholes in our immigration laws and use our country as a base for illegal activity, including terrorism.

The Liberals have deliberately merged these two separate issues thereby preventing security interests from becoming effectively dealt with because reasoned debate is supplanted by specious accusations of racism. I would like to illustrate a couple of examples for the benefit of the House.

On October 4 In the House of Commons, in a question to the immigration minister in which an opposition member asked if the minister would commit unequivocally to working with Ontario and any other province that came forward to pick up the slack in the deportation of people illegally in Canada, her response was to accuse the member of equating refugees with criminals. She stated “It is simply wrong to broad-brush all of those who are in Canada who have deportation orders”. That is the technique.

Another good example took place on October 1 when an opposition member stated “We know there have been terrorists living among us. We know that they get here illegally through our refugee system”. The member then asked what specific steps the Prime Minister could tell us about that he had taken to protect Canadians and indirectly to protect our neighbours.

The response of the minister was that not all refugee claimants are criminals and that the member was simply fearmongering.

In a final example, the immigration minister's first comments following the terrorist attack was to criticize anyone who would point out the loopholes in our immigration refugee system that was being exploited by terrorists by characterizing them as being “anti-immigrant and anti-everybody rhetoric”, when in fact it is the minister engaging in rhetoric.

As I have stated, elected members of parliament and our country's own security agencies have highlighted how the system has failed. Opposition MPs have been demanding since 1993 that loopholes in the legislation governing entry into Canada be closed. I would like to quote from a 1996 Canadian Security Intelligence Service report which stated the following:

As other developed countries tighten their responses to terrorism, Canada will continue to be attractive to terrorists as a safe haven and a means of ready access to the United States.

The report further stated:

In Canada, the threat from international terrorism will continue to be associated with homeland conflicts. Many of the world's terrorist groups have a presence in Canada, where they engage in a variety of activities in support of terrorism, including: providing logistic support for terrorism outside Canada; developing the potential for terrorist actions in Canada; fund-raising, advocacy, and information dissemination; intimidating Canadian citizens in émigré communities; providing safe haven for terrorists; arranging transit to and from other countries; and raising money through illegal activities.

These activities in Canada are an obvious concern for intelligence and law enforcement officials. Insufficient effort in either area could leave Canada open to charges of being implicated indirectly in acts elsewhere against other states. To avoid such a possibility, even greater cooperation with like-minded countries will be needed for the foreseeable future.

That is from a 1996 report.

The concern I see with the legislation is that it has the potential, because some aspects of it are targeting our common border with the United States, to sacrifice the free flow of trade between our two countries instead of addressing the issues that would prevent terrorists from reaching Canadian soil in the first place.

Seen in this light, the government's efforts continue to be geared toward after the fact measures rather than being proactive in combating the terrorist threat from abroad.

On Monday of this week the opposition coalition put the following motion before the House of Commons. It stated:

That this House reaffirm its condemnation of the terrorist attacks against our NATO ally, the United States of America, on September 11, 2001, and affirm its support for Canada's courageous men and women in the Canadian Forces who are responding to defend freedom and democracy in the international military coalition against terrorism; and

That this House hereby order the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs to sit jointly to hold frequent meetings with ministers and officials of the government and the military.

Shamefully, in an act of outright political cowardice, the New Democratic Party was the only party that voted against that motion and opposed Canada's military effort in support of our allies in the war on terrorism.

At a time when this country should be united in its support for our men and women in uniform, the NDP has shamefully decided to play politics with the issue by undermining our country's contribution to the international military effort. By voting against the motion, the NDP has proven its irrelevance and once again relegated itself to the fringe of Canadian politics.

I would like to also point out that 80% of Canadians support the international coalition to fight terrorism. One is either against those of us who believe in protecting democracy and freedom or one is against us.

The NDP has chosen to sympathize with terrorists.

I realize that I am running out of time so I will just sum up with a condemnation of the NDP and of the Liberal government for focusing--

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4:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Brampton Centre.

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4:40 p.m.


Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I too would like to express my total support for Bill C-36 and the fight against terrorism. I would also like to take a moment to congratulate our Prime Minister for going to Halifax to bid farewell to our soldiers. I hope when everything is said and done they will all come back safe and sound to their families and loved ones. I also hope they will come here one day so we can honour them in the House of Commons.

Over the last couple of days we have had many discussions. During one of the discussions a colleague from this side of the House mentioned the fact that any time we have a demonstration that turns violent it is a terrorist act. Someone else from the other side mentioned that it is not a terrorist act but rather a free expression of will.

As far as I am concerned, I do not think we can come up with a scientific definition of what the word terrorism means.

I will give an example. In the 1950s Nelson Mandela, the leader of the African National Congress, was a terrorist for the white supremacist government in South Africa. I am glad to say that he was here a couple of years ago and will be here again to receive an honorary citizenship for Canada.

To re-emphasize the point I made earlier, there is no scientific definition for the word terrorism.

However, having said that, there is no justification whatsoever for anyone to engage in terrorist acts, especially the ones that happened on September 11 which killed over 5,000 innocent people working in their offices.

I want to focus my next few minutes not on the bill alone. I would like to say that to fight terrorism is like having a chair. It needs four legs to have balance.

I think the Minister of Justice is doing a fantastic job on the legal end of it. However what is missing in our fight against terrorism here, and especially in the United States, is the intelligence aspect of it.

As we all know, the Middle East is a hotbed of international problems. In the early 1950s attempts were made in Iran to overthrow the shah. The CIA was involved. It brought back the shah but it failed to protect its interests in the Middle East in 1979 when the shah was thrown out by Ayatollah Khomeini. I think we have regretted that from that time onward to this day because we were not able to predict what was going to happen following the shah's fall . Then we had the Iran-Iraq war.

We then had the Lebanese civil war in 1983 where 241 U.S. marines were bombed by terrorist acts. Again, the Americans were not able to get the intelligence required to defend themselves or prevent these terrorist acts.

In the late 1980s the U.S.S.R. fell. It was the biggest empire in the world. Everybody was afraid. It was a powerful nation for over 1,000 years but nobody knew it was crumbling from within.

The CIA and the FBI have a $28 billion budget. If they could not figure out what was happening in the Soviet Union for the last 50 years, then I am really concerned about what will happen in the next 50 years.

What happened on September 11 was, I think, an intelligence failure. The U.S. knew full well that the same place had been bombed by terrorists 10 years ago. Obviously they failed, and I am glad, but they should have failed this time around too. The U.S. knew this thing was coming up.

In history there are many situations that could have been prevented if we only had good intelligence. We have failed to have that.

The bombing of a U.S. navy ship in the south Yemen Sea was due to an intelligence failure. The African embassy bombing two years was also due to an intelligence failure.

We had many warnings that our intelligence system was failing us but we never took the time to review the status of our western intelligence.

Over the last few weeks there were quite a few documentaries on CBC telling us about the failures of our intelligence system, the American intelligence system and the whole western intelligence system to prevent the attack that took place on September 11.

If I may say so, I think this discussion should focus on improving our intelligence system so we can prevent further attacks.

To describe what is happening now, I would describe it as a snake. The snake's head is in Nigeria.

The House may recall three or four years ago that the foreign affairs committee had a delegation of Algerian parliamentarians here on an exchange program. The people in that country had a coup d'état against the democratically elected government. It was in the news, on TV and in newspapers over the last couple of years. Individuals were concerned that Muslim fundamentalists were taking power from the democratically elected government. From that time on things have changed. All disguised fundamentalists have now congregated in Afghanistan.

The hotbed of this conflict is of course the Middle East. One does not have to say anything more when they say Middle East because everyone knows what has been happening there over the last 50 years, and more intensely over the last year or so.

I believe that by bombing Afghanistan only part of the problem has been solved, not the whole problem. We have to go to the root of the problem. No matter how many laws we pass in this place, there will not be a final solution to terrorist acts.

As far as I am concerned, rule number one is intelligence. Rule number two is more intelligence. Rule number three is even more intelligence to fight terrorism.

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4:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Betty Hinton Canadian Alliance Kamloops, Thompson And Highland Valleys, BC

Madam Speaker, there are obvious basic philosophical differences between the Liberal Party and the Canadian Alliance. The Liberals tend to be reactive, not proactive. The legislation in front of us today should not have been handled and developed as emergency legislation.

The Canadian Alliance and the Reform before it have been calling on the government to recognize the shortfalls and the shortsightedness in the funding of military, police and protective services for years.

Having said that, this is a case where we have to pull together for Canada. I will support Bill C-36, but I will point out some of the things that I believe are flawed.

The Canadian Alliance put forward a motion on September 17 which called for the naming of all known international terrorist organizations operating in Canada. We asked for a complete ban on fundraising activities in support of terrorism and provisions for the seizure of assets belonging to terrorists or terrorist organizations. We asked for the immediate ratification of the international convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism and for the creation of specific definitions of crimes for engaging in terrorist training activities in Canada or inciting terrorist activities abroad from Canada.

We asked for the prompt extradition of foreign nationals charged with acts of terrorism even if the charges were capital offences. We asked for the detention and deportation to their country of origin of any people illegally in Canada or failed refugee claimants who were linked to terrorist organizations.

The legislation in front of us, which I will support, addresses some of those issues. I do believe, however, that we have room for improvement. The legislation does nothing to remedy the current extradition situation resulting from the Burns and Rafay decision made by the Supreme Court of Canada. Since this decision Canada has become a safe haven for criminals. That is beyond denying. It has been happening for years.

It allows for consecutive sentences for some terrorist related crimes. Life sentences, however, are exempted. This creates a 5,000 for one price on terrorism. A person is allowed to kill 5,000 people and pay the same penalty as if only one life was taken. That is unjust and unfair, and it needs to be addressed.

The legislation does nothing to guarantee reliable and long term funding for frontline people who are working against the war on terrorism. It will be ineffective unless those frontline people are given guaranteed resources to enforce the provisions. That means it must be addressed through a budget and it must become a priority of the entire House, not just the Canadian Alliance.

The legislation will raise civil liberty concerns. The increased stability of our police and security agencies to pry into the personal lives of Canadians will set off alarms from civil liberty agencies and groups. Preventive arrests in investigative hearings will surely be challenged by the charter.

I agree that it is necessary for us to take these steps at this point in time, but I would like to see us take a very long and sober look at putting in place a measure that would allow us to look at it again in the near future. The minister attempted to give the House her word that things would go well and that this would be reviewed. She said that we should not worry about minor details. These are not minor details; they are very major details.

For members who wonder why I have a lack of trust I will point to a few pieces of legislation. The Income Tax Act was a temporary measure put in place many years ago. It was to fund the war effort and then disappear. Not only has it not disappeared. It has increasingly taken more and more money out of the pockets of everyday Canadians. That is one reason I am not trusting at this point in time and I want to see something stronger.

We also had the very strong election promise from the Liberal government to do away with the GST and it was ignored entirely after the election.

I am concerned that under this piece of legislation one would be forced to testify against oneself. In the case of terrorism I am fully supportive of that. One should be forced to testify and to give answers to questions asked by our personnel. However there is not a case in point where there is a timeline when this would elapse or when we would have an opportunity to bring it back.

I do not want the legislation in front of us, which I will support, to turn into something like the Income Tax Act or any other piece of legislation that has never come back before the House and has lived a long life with no sign of its demise or end.

The amendments to the Access to Information Act are troubling. It would appear that the Liberals are using this critical time as an opportunity to implement restrictions on access to government information by Canadians. I hope that is untrue but that is the way I view it at this time.

As a member of parliament trying to access information through the current channels is next to impossible. It takes forever. I have tried to access information for my constituents. They wonder why as an MP I have to jump more barriers than are necessary to get information. It is something that is very important and that we need to address.

The legislation does not name any specific terrorist groups operating in Canada. This information is readily available from CSIS and the RCMP. When those questions were asked we were told that for reasons of security the information could not be disclosed in the House. That is a very difficult explanation to swallow.

I am disappointed the government has made most of its announcements regarding terrorism at press conferences rather than at meetings with all members of the House. There are 301 members who were elected to the House to represent the people of Canada. We should not leave the decisions to a small handful of 12 who sit in cabinet. It is unfair and undemocratic. It is a practice that must stop.

Written codes of practice on the seizure and retention of property and silent video recordings are required. Interviews of detainees by police must be audio recorded in accordance with the code of practice. Canadian legislation has no such safeguards.

The 170 page document has been a great deal to absorb in a short period of time. It has been very difficult to absorb. It is not what I would recommend as nightly reading. I have relied on my colleague from Provencher for advice, discretion and the ability to answer questions that I am unable to answer.

I want to make certain this is not another case where we do not get an opportunity to openly debate legislation. We must have a say in how this happens. We must listen to the voices of the people whom we represent. The people in my constituency of Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys have e-mailed, written and telephoned me. Their concerns are wide ranging but the biggest concern is the secrecy behind how all this was put together. I have tried to explain parts of the act to them but it is difficult for me to do so.

The government needs to be more open. We need a better understanding of what is in front of us and for once the House needs to act as a team. We are all on the same team. We are looking to protect Canadians, our homeland and our neighbours.

The act limits the power to grant bail to certain higher court judges, thus limiting instances in which bail would be given. Canadian legislation does not close the loophole. American legislation places extensive stress on deportation provisions. We are not doing that.

I will support the legislation. I give the government points for trying its best to put things together, but I urge it to listen carefully to what members on both sides of the House have to say and to put together something that benefits all of Canada.

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5 p.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Madam Speaker, Bill C-36 is possibly the most important piece of legislation the House will deal with in the life of this parliament. Therefore it needs a great deal of scrutiny from both sides of the House.

All Canadians have been victimized by those terrorists. Some Canadians have special burdens because of their origins, but we should make no mistake that we are all victims of September 11.

Prior to September 11 there was no way that Bill C-36 would ever have seen the light of day. No lawyer in the justice department or indeed no minister of justice would ever have certified that such a bill would meet charter requirements. No one with even a passing familiarity with the charter would have countenanced such an encroachment on the fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadians. However that was then and this is now.

Watching television last night I was struck by the eagerness of some Canadians to trade their rights and freedoms for security. It was both surprising and disheartening to me to hear caller after caller be prepared to give the government and parliament a blank cheque. It was also disheartening to hear Canadians make wild and outrageous links between immigrants, refugees and security. When people are afraid they say things that they would never otherwise say. They think things that they would never otherwise think, and they do things that they would never otherwise do.

It will be a test of our nation that has a reputation for stability and tolerance to deal with these fears. Otherwise the terrorists win. They win because neighbours turn on neighbours. Instead of reaching out we turn inward. We walk away from our rights for which previous generations have fought and died. The challenge is not to let terrorism win and to break this cycle of victimization where victims in turn victimize. I am hopeful that the justice committee will carefully scrutinize the bill.

I would like to look at one section of the bill that deals with the listing of terrorists. At the risk of simplifying, a group is a terrorist group because we say it is a terrorist group. The director of CSIS would prepare a list of terrorist groups. He would hand it to the solicitor general who in turn would share it with his cabinet colleagues. The cabinet would gazette an organization and it is now a terrorist organization.

I know that I am telescoping clause 85, but it is not that much fancier than that process. I appreciate the solicitor general must have reasonable grounds, but what are reasonable grounds?

Are reasonable grounds that which is beyond a reasonable doubt, as one would have in a criminal court of law? Are reasonable grounds evidence that is on the balance of probabilities such as one would have in a civil setting? Will evidence that would be otherwise inadmissible be accepted as evidence? Will we be operating on speculation, rumour, gossip, hearsay and ambiguities?

The truth of the matter, as I see it, is that reasonable grounds would be whatever the CSIS director thinks are reasonable grounds. May I remind members what was unthinkable prior to September 11 will become reasonable grounds after September 11. God forbid that there should be any other incident, because what we think are reasonable grounds today will be further diluted.

Or will the reasonable grounds be whatever the CIA or the British intelligence service MI5 tells us are reasonable grounds? Will we merely photocopy the lists of other intelligence services and hope that they did a thorough job? What independent analysis will we apply to reasonable grounds to determine whether in fact these lists have some basis in law?

It is trite but true that intelligence gathering is far from precise. It relies on all kinds of sources, some of which clearly are not reliable, some of which leave a lot to conjecture, in order to conclude that an organization, an entity or a person is a terrorist. This is not a science; some would even say it is not an art.

I am perfectly prepared to concede that the top 10 organizations the solicitor general puts forward for his cabinet colleagues will be fairly easy to identify. Even in this room there will be virtual unanimity among colleagues that the top 10 would in fact be terrorist organizations.

Reasonable people might argue quite vigorously among themselves about the next 10 organizations that are on the list. There may well be honestly held differences in views as to which should or should not be on the list. And what about the 10 after that? There may well be wild variations of opinion, but because the director of CSIS says there are reasonable grounds and the solicitor general believes there are reasonable grounds, then they are terrorist organizations and they will be gazetted.

If they are labelled, what are they going to do? The 10 top will not care. I do not expect that Mr. bin Laden is going to be overly fussed about being labelled a terrorist in Canada. The next 10 may be upset and they may or may not do something. The last group however may be very upset. Its members may feel that their rights to carry on an activity which they perceive to be either charitable or political has been infringed and there may be some basis for their concerns.

The bill does provide for some form of redress. The solicitor general must notify the entity within 60 days of being gazetted. As I said, it is not likely that Mr. bin Laden's group is going to be overly upset, nor is the PLO or the Hamas or any of those other fine and noble organizations which we read about in the newspaper. But there are going to be groups that are upset and the likelihood is that by the labelling and gazetting, 98% of the damage will have already been done. They cannot get back their reputation once they have lost it.

After the 60 day notice, a judge will convene a hearing. The judge will read the real evidence and the judge will hear the real evidence from a representative of the crown. Neither he nor the solicitor general has to tell them about the evidence. They only have to give a summary of the evidence. By the time the judge decides that the group should not have been gazetted, it will be all over for that entity. The organization will be in ruins, its reputation destroyed and its members despised by their neighbours.

I appreciate that there are needs for confidentiality. These are extraordinary times and people do feel insecure, but once something like this happens, we can never get it back.

As I say, I am not overly worried about the bin Ladens of this world. I am worried about the entities which would not be regarded as anything other than a collection of cranks or nuts other than in these times, let alone that they were not given an opportunity for a full and fair defence. The bill deserves a lot of scrutiny by the House.

Anti-Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I say with hesitation that I will be supporting Bill C-36.

I am going to go back in history a little to the period 1993 to 1995. When I first came to the House, I said then what I say today, that the foremost responsibility of any government is the safety and well-being of its legal law-abiding citizens. Today I listen to some of the talk on both sides of the House. I can well remember standing in the House and warning about the flaws in our immigration policy, the flaws in our refugee system and how it had to be tightened up. I can well remember being called a racist. I can well remember being called a bigot. I certainly can well remember being called a fearmonger for stating exactly what happened.

A member asks what has changed now. A Liberal member still has the audacity and stupidity to ask that question. It is more rhetoric from a jackass, pure and simple. September 11 changed the minds of those on that side of the House too yet we still hear the same thing from them. It is unbelievable. They will say anything to try and change what they never addressed in the first place. They were well warned, not only by us but by their organizations. CSIS warned them. The RCMP warned them. We read from the reports and they still never accepted it. They laughed them off. It was a joke. Well it is no longer a joke.

Today I hear the talk, the worry and the concern about human rights. It is a legitimate concern but is it concern about human rights or should it be about human lives? I for one would sooner have the RCMP rounding up and detaining suspected terrorists than rounding up and taking the families of victims of terrorists to the morgues. I think the families, relatives and friends of the people who died on September 11 would have the same feelings. We do not even have to ask. That is the feeling.

Why do I have concerns? We know about Assam Raheem. We have stood in the House and asked the questions about Raheem. The minister stood and said that they knew about it, that they worked hand in hand with the American intelligence services and police forces to capture this man, that the Canadian government was well aware this man came into Canada with a false French passport. They say they were following his activities, tracking him and helping the RCMP so they must have known this man was building a bomb in the city of Vancouver. The minister was watching him. That is what was said in the House.

They know then that he also loaded this unstable bomb into the trunk of a car, drove past some of our schools and hospitals, drove past the public and drove onto one of our ferries that was loaded with people. He was allowed to transport the bomb down to the States. The minister knew what he was doing. Again they are just trying to cover their mistakes. If they did know about this and allowed a terrorist to build a bomb in the city of Vancouver and transport it on our highway system, they should be held accountable. That is why I have concerns.

I have grave concerns about what they will do with Bill C-36. When it goes to committee will some of the recommendations and concerns put forward not only by this party but by other parties in the House be heard? Will the government finally listen and implement them?

The concerns we are addressing here are not our individual concerns. They are the concerns of our constituents. In my constituency a great number of people who voted for me and who are members in our party are first and second generation immigrants. They left their countries because of the terrorist acts that go on there. They come to us with their problems and the threats they receive from some of these organizations. Yet when we bring them up in the House, the government turns a deaf ear. It tries to label us. I find that disgusting.

They say we should all work together on this and I agree. But some of us have long memories. Some of us well remember what was said to us when we brought these issues before the House. Some of us well remember what was said during the election campaign. I remember what the minister of immigration said. Has there ever been an apology? No.

I hear concerns now that we cannot harmonize with the Americans because we are likely to lose part of our identity, that the Americans would want to control our immigration if we were to harmonize with them. I hear concerns not only from the government side but from other members in the House. I want to remind people that the United States of America was built on immigration, just as our country was. Legal law-abiding immigrants came to Canada but they also went to the United States and made that a great nation, the same way they helped to make Canada a great nation. I find those questions very distasteful.

Members must remember what the great country of France sent to the United States of America: the Statue of Liberty. There are words on the Statue of Liberty that welcome all immigrants to that country. We welcome immigrants too and proudly so. But does that mean we should not have concerns? Does that mean we should not tighten up the system? It does not. We have been reminded of that in an extreme way.

Yes, we will work with the government. However no one should think for one minute that the memory of some of the things that were said is ever going to go away, things that were said about individual members on this side of the House and also about our party. This is not the time. For the right of law-abiding citizens of this country it is time we did the right thing. We cannot hesitate. We have to get rid of that idea. If members think bin Laden is the only terrorist in the world, I have news for them. There are a lot more out there who are just as dangerous.

It is time we started to crack down. It is time for the public to demand the House to have an open and honest debate on capital punishment with regard to some of these issues. It is time to have a debate on deportation issues. We still do not deport people from Canada for murders they committed in another country. I do not understand that. We want other countries to respect our laws, why should we not respect theirs?

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5:20 p.m.


Stephen Owen Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to support Bill C-36 this evening. I add my voice to the many voices from all sides and corners of the House that have spoken of the importance of the bill which is meant to address incredibly foundational issues touching our democracy at this time.

I will talk a bit about the Canadian response, the challenge of facing terror in a democracy, the measured response the bill presents and the areas of review we will be entering into in the House and in committee.

The Canadian response to the evil of September 11 has been widespread and has unified us as a country although we have heard different expressions of how we should respond. I and my constituents in Vancouver Quadra join all Canadians in expressing our horror and deep felt sympathy for the families of the victims.

Our response, starting with the some 30,000 passengers diverted from American flights to Canada on September 11, has been extraordinary. That has been recognized across the United States and around the world. Canadians did not know at the time whether the planes harboured terrorists, had bombs on board or were a threat to Canada but we willingly opened our skies and airports to take those people in.

On September 14, 100,000 Canadians met on Parliament Hill to express their deep concern and sadness over the evil event. Within a day of the horror of September 11, ministers across a whole range of departments were working to add new resources and expedite and tighten up security measures to deal with the new reality.

In the House we have had more than 60 hours of debate on various aspects of the terror and our response to it. In all the debate there has been a common cause: to ensure we reach a proper balance in our democracy between security and freedom in the face of this type of terror. That is the challenge in front of us. It is a challenge Bill C-36 tries to address.

The balance is a delicate one. There can be no democracy without security. There can be no freedom without security. If we have only security we are imprisoned. There can be no security unless we have freedom, otherwise we have anarchy. This delicate balance must respect the reality of the times, and the times have changed for us all as the reality of September 11 has struck home.

It is the section 1 limits of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that we must turn our attention to in Bill C-36. Our rights and freedoms are subject to “such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”. We must always keep that limitation in mind as we measure our response.

Bill C-36 is complementary to a whole range of other initiatives and pieces of legislation. It would complement and add to the criminal code which covers the whole range of offences a terrorist might commit. However it specifically focuses on terrorism. It would supplement and build on the initiatives set out in Bill C-24, the organized crime legislation passed by the House in the spring.

Bill C-36 would add breadth, strength and definition to the provisions of the United Nations Act which allows us by regulation to implement United Nations security council resolutions. It would also build on the Immigration Act and give more definition to the provisions of Bill C-11 on immigration.

In terms of our international responsibilities and our responsibilities to our neighbours in the United States, Bill C-36 would allow us to ratify and implement the last two international conventions on terrorism: the international convention for the suppression of terrorist bombings and the international convention for the suppression of terrorist financing. This would bring us into the position of having ratified and implemented all 12 UN conventions on terrorism. That is immensely important.

It is also important that Bill C-36 would build on the hate propaganda provisions of the criminal code. It would make hate propaganda a crime and allow it to be deleted from public Internet sites.

Bill C-36 would build on the money laundering and proceeds of crime legislation we have in place to deal with criminal organizations. This legislation deals mainly with enterprise crime but could clearly be focused on terrorist organizations.

Bill C-36 is a measured response and an immensely important part of the democratic exercise we are involved in. Its balance is shown by a whole range of ministerial responsibilities. We would need the permission of the attorney general before initiating the investigative hearings, the preventive arrest provisions or the Canada Evidence Act certification which would allow the CSE to intercept communications which are targeted at foreign sources but enter Canadian airwaves.

The listing provision would need the recommendation of the solicitor general and the approval of cabinet. It would need to be reviewed every two years and could be challenged by the courts in judicial review.

As well, judicial oversight is woven into the whole bill. Investigative hearings reviewing the listing and preventive arrest provisions within 24 hours of being brought before a judge would provide effective judicial oversight.

Most important, the legislation comes out of the collective wisdom of the House as expressed over the last 30 days. There are issues that are still open for serious debate, and the Prime Minister and Minister of Justice have indicated their intention and desire that the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights review these concerns in detail and provide further advice.

These will touch in particular on the important new provisions regarding preventive arrest, investigative hearings, the whole process of listing and delisting, parliamentary review, and the definition of terror. This is the first time terror has been defined and it is an immensely important centerpiece of the legislation.

It has been suggested in the House that some of the provisions, particularly the new ones, be made sunset clauses. The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights will be considering ways in which the legislation can be properly tracked over the next short period of time to consider whether it is achieving its objective, whether there are unintended consequences or whether there should be amendments.

I am confident in supporting Bill C-36 that it responds to the common objective and common cause of every member of the House: to deal with the horror and evil of terrorism in our democracy in a way that finds the proper balance between security and freedom.

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5:25 p.m.


Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, since September 11, all governments on this planet have been faced with a problem that is, if not entirely new, of a scope never before known.

All countries are today faced with new terrorist threats, which are creating something akin to panic in the population at large. Anthrax and other types of alerts are keeping emergency services constantly in response mode. Without wishing to be a prophet of doom, I feel we are far from seeing the end of this.

The danger we face--over and above the attacks or, in certain cases, the supposed attacks--is the gradual paralysis of the economy, of democratic institutions, and of the way we live within society.

All heads of state without exception--at least all those we have heard from--are calling upon us daily to continue to live our lives as normally as possible, as otherwise the terrorists will have accomplished their objective.

Our governments have, as far as they are able, tried to react so as to reassure their population. We are told this over and over. We are told that all steps have been taken to ensure public safety. Nevertheless, people everywhere are showing how insecure they are feeling. They are still extremely fearful.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada has just introduced Bill C-36, which would, as its title indicates, amend the criminal code, the Official Secrets Act, the Canada Evidence Act, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act and other acts. This is known by the short title of the anti-terrorism act.

We agree with this bill in principle. We agree that terrorism must be fought against and also that we have to equip ourselves with the means to do so, and consequently must amend legislation so that we can do a better job of it.

We humbly submit, however, that we need to avoid falling into the trap that lies before us, that is to act too hastily, to pass new legislation which would far exceed its objective and would open the door to all manner of abuses.

Periods such as the current one can easily lead to excesses. Canada's recent history is not exempt from such abuse. Remember what happened during the second world war. Some serious abuse took place in the past in spite of the fact that we lived in a democracy. Citizens were stripped of their rights, even though they had not committed any crime.

Notwithstanding the current situation, we want to maintain our fundamental rights. We want to remain free. We do not want our democracy to be tarnished again by abuse. We must be cautious and take the time necessary to examine all the repercussions that could result from the passage of Bill C-36.

The September 11 terrorist attacks and the continuing threats at present have reached an extraordinary level and created an extraordinary context. Bill C-36 must therefore be an extraordinary piece of legislation to deal with an extraordinary situation.

Should the terrorist threat diminish, several of the measures being considered through Bill C-36 would become unacceptable and the balance between security and freedom would have to be readjusted.

In a democracy, this is always a fragile balance. We must not forget that. This is why the Bloc Quebecois is asking the government to include a sunset clause whereby certain provisions of the bill would no longer be in effect after three years, unless of course the House decided otherwise at that time and the need to extend such provisions was demonstrated. We are also asking that this act be reviewed on a yearly basis.

There are other aspects of Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism act, that raise concerns. It seems to us that the definition of a terrorist act goes too far. It is much too broad and could lead to abuse against groups or individuals who have no connection with terrorism.

We had a very good example of this in the House today when it was suggested that certain groups of protesters at the Quebec summit be deemed to have committed terrorist acts.

The bill would enable the attorney general to withhold information by not applying the Access to Information Act, this without an evaluation by the privacy commissioner and without a judicial review.

This means that the attorney general, or Minister of Justice, is giving herself the authority to withhold information from the public, to remove elements of information, this without any consultation with the information commissioner.

Another element which appears to carry some risk and which deserves to be studied further is that the Minister of National Defence could intercept international communications simply by making a written request to the Communications Security Establishment.

This means that the Minister of National Defence could claim the power to intercept international communications between two groups, individuals or businesses simply by asking the Communications Security Establishment in writing.

A number of other questions could be raised and some of them already have been raised by the media. Doubts have arisen.

Hopefully the bill will be carefully examined before being passed. As elected representatives, it is our duty to ensure that the bill attains the objective for which it was created. As elected representatives, it is our duty to ensure that the bill does not go too far and violate the freedoms of the citizens who elected us.

In my remarks, I also wanted to remind members that the best way to fight terrorism is by preventing it at the source. As a democracy and as a society, we must ask ourselves what the real issues are and try to come up with satisfactory solutions to them.

It is by fighting poverty and misery, as we have repeatedly said, that we will best succeed in changing things. It is by educating and teaching that we will best be able to fight blindness and loosen the grip that dictators have on poorly educated populations. It is by sharing knowledge and resources that we will best succeed in creating conditions that will prevent terrorist groups from springing up. It is also, and most importantly, by restoring assistance to developing countries that we can best intervene. It is a long term process that we must undertake immediately.

Military strikes are not enough to eradicate terrorism. Nor is tough legislation. These are short term measures. What is needed is a new world order where human beings are held in greater value.

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5:35 p.m.


Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today because we have been hearing speaker after speaker constantly fearmongering. They are trying to associate refugees with terrorists.

I represent a riding which is the most ethnically diverse riding in Canada. One of the communities that is situated in my riding is the Canadian Arab Federation. I would like members to examine the positive things they are doing, like daycare, assistance to new immigrants and enriching our Canadian heritage. They are feeling the heat at this point. There are those who want to associate the Arabs with terrorists. Comments such as a person is an Arab terrorist or a person is a Palestinian terrorist have been brought to my attention. This is not acceptable, not welcomed and should be fought and eradicated by all of us.

Canadians of Arab descent are very sensitive to this issue as well as to the Palestinian issue. It is time to take the initiative with the Palestinian issue. The issue is one that has been in the forefront for many decades. We need to address the Palestinian issue, not only with talks but with peaceful and just solutions.

We just sent our men and women off to war. God be with them and return them home safe. The legislation before us is very important. I am asking all colleagues to fully support it and examine it closely. I am also asking all colleagues to support the conversation on Palestine, and I know our Prime Minister, being the oldest statesmen, will take the lead in this.