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House of Commons Hansard #99 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-37.

Topics

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from October 18 consideration of the motion that Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the motion that the question be now put.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand again to speak to Bill C-35. As was mentioned the debate on this bill began last Thursday. When I approached the table today I was told that I had 14 minutes left unless I was speaking French and then I would have 15 minutes. I will attempt to do this in English and I should be done in 14 minutes.

The bill does a number of things. One of the main thrusts of the bill is the implementation of part of the Hughes report. This summer we went through the Hughes report that dealt with the APEC inquiry. It made many recommendations.

One of the recommendations dealt with the RCMP. It recommended the requested statutory codification of the nature and extent of police independence from government with respect to two different areas: first, the existing common law practices regarding law enforcement and, second, the provision and responsibility for delivery of security services at public order events. Bill C-35 intends to implement the last part of the Hughes report but not the former part.

RCMP Commissioner Zaccardelli dismissed the key recommendations saying that there was no need in his opinion for statutory recognition of police independence.

Canadians must have confidence that the RCMP can do its job. That includes investigating the government in suspected cases of wrongdoing without fear of interference or reprisal. APEC is not an isolated incident. There are other examples, such as the airbus affair, that suggest the government may have improperly interfered with or instructed the RCMP.

A number of books chronicle the politicization of the RCMP, such as Paul Palango's Above the Law , and Stevie Cameron's On the Take .

In January 1997 the federal government reached a $2 million out of court settlement with former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in what we call the airbus affair. It has been almost five years and Canadians have never learned the truth as to who was ultimately responsible for this libel suit. No one was ever held accountable for the Liberal government's suspect political intervention into a criminal investigation of national and international importance.

For those who may not remember, I will refresh their memory. In 1995 a letter of request was sent to Swiss authorities signed by justice department lawyer Kimberly Prost on behalf of the justice minister. Contained within this letter was a false accusation. It stated:

This investigation is of serious concern to the Government of Canada as it involves criminal activity on the part of the former Prime Minister.

On November 4, 1995, Roger Tasse, Mulroney's lawyer, contacted the justice minister via telephone to apprise him that they were in receipt of the letter written to the Swiss authorities. According to news reports Tasse pleaded with the minister to water down the language and send a new document to Switzerland. The minister refused. Furthermore in a letter dated November 8, 1995, to the justice minister Mulroney's lawyer stated:

In light of the most important, unjustified and highly damaging statements contained in the request made to the Swiss authorities, we urge you to personally review the matter and to direct your department to withdraw the request already made and to present, if that is the wish of the RCMP, a new request that is more respectful of basic rules of fairness and decency.

The justice minister again refused to withdraw the letter. That resulted in a $50 million lawsuit by Brian Mulroney. Even the former RCMP commissioner was concerned that the lawsuit would jeopardize the criminal investigation. He stated:

I have been very concerned about the potential impact on the criminal investigation of a long and very public civil process.

The minister again refused to withdraw the letter. A civil suit proceeded and at the very last moment the justice minister made an out of court settlement with an apology. This cost Canadian taxpayers $3.4 million. However the letter containing the false accusation was not withdrawn. The court decision indicated that the request letter was invalid as it had followed an improper process. Rather than withdraw the letter the former justice minister appealed the decision.

I know this case may be old news but to date Canadians have never been given answers. This matter has not been resolved. Nor has anyone been held responsible except for RCMP Staff Sergeant Fraser Fiegenwald. We have been left with the impression that Staff Sergeant Fiegenwald who allegedly leaked this information to author Stevie Cameron was responsible for the entire airbus scandal including the $3.4 million that this fiasco cost Canadians.

The facts as far as I understand them do not support this perception. However the government did nothing to dispel it, especially after Fiegenwald was conveniently allowed to retire from the force just before a code of conduct proceeding.

A cloud hangs over the RCMP as a result of airbus and all the many unanswered questions. It is negatively affecting its reputation. A cloud also hangs over the Prime Minister, the former justice minister and the former solicitor general as their involvement in this matter still remains suspect. Although it is not too late to lift this cloud by allowing the truth to be known, I am sure the government will never allow an investigation into this affair.

In 1997 a motion was brought before the standing committee on justice and legal affairs. The motion originated with my party and had the support of the Bloc, the NDP and the Tory members of that committee. It called for an examination of the facts pertaining to airbus. Not surprisingly the motion was shot down by Liberal members of that committee, particularly the member for Scarborough--Rouge River who believed that if the committee--

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Perhaps the member should speak in French as in French he might be relevant to the topic of discussion because at this point he is not. Perhaps the member could--

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I know the hon. member will draw some connection between the things he is saying now and the bill that is currently the subject of debate before the House. We are all looking forward to that.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am sure if the member would sit and listen rather than referring to all the other people around him he would understand that the bill deals with the RCMP and the cloud that hangs over it. It deals with the two recommendations that have been brought forward by the Hughes report.

It is very condemning of the Liberal government when we talk about airbus and it brings up the rancour of many on that committee because it is still an issue that has not been dealt with. We are talking about the politicization of the RCMP and its involvement--

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

With great respect to the hon. member, the bill deals with foreign missions and international organizations. It does not appear to have a great connection with the RCMP. Perhaps he could elucidate the House on this point a little further. We would appreciate his comments in dragging the bill into the debate.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your intervention. If you take a look at the summary of the bill, it clearly states:

The enactment further provides that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has the primary responsibility to ensure the security for the proper functioning of intergovernmental conferences.

This refers to APEC. I am sure that if this member would listen he would hear very clearly. He has to read the bill to see the correlation.

I would ask, because of the impropriety shown by the member, that at least a few minutes of my time be put back. I can spend that time instructing the minister or the member because he is not a minister on the RCMP and how it is related to the bill. He is in the back row where he will probably sit forever. The member for Scarborough--Rouge River believed that if the committee--

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on another point of order. If a member raises a question of relevance, is it appropriate for the member to whom the question is directed to respond with personal allegations and asinine comments as we have just heard?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

We are getting into debate here. I think the hon. member will have his opportunity in due course.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would gladly answer his question in the question and comment period. If he wants to take a look at the bill, he can take a look at proposed section 10.1 and he will very clearly find the reference we are drawing attention to.

Getting back to the committee meeting we were referring to, the member for Scarborough--Rouge River believed that if the committee conducted such an inquiry with the police investigation still in process the RCMP's case might be jeopardized, but the members did agree that at some point down the road an inquiry should be done.

Guess what, we are still waiting and, believe it or not, time has not diminished the memories or the magnitude of this scandalous affair. In fact, now the question is not just the scandalous affair. It is the question of a possible cover-up.

As I am accustomed to doing in the House, I would like to quote from an article that appeared in the Edmonton Sun of November 25, 1997. I do so because it is important to demonstrate that the opinions of this side of the House are shared by others. The article states:

There should be a thorough and public fumigating of the events surrounding the $1.8 billion purchase of European Airbus passenger jets by Air Canada during Mulroney's tenure.

But not solely for the reasons stated by Mulroney in his interview.

The purpose of the inquiry in the former PM's eyes is to get to the bottom of who knew what in Ottawa--with the trail of incriminating evidence hopefully leading right to the prime minister's office.

There certainly is an air of incredibility surrounding the incident which would have Canadians believe that a lowly RCMP sergeant was flying solo when he requested the damning letter to Swiss banking authorities--the letter wherein Mulroney and other top former PC officials were implicated...We can't blame Mulroney for attempting to clear his name while at the same time holding the feet of his political tormentors to the fire...Sadly, there appears to be an unwritten rule in federal politics that governments don't go digging into the excesses of the previous regime. If only to prevent receiving the same treatment when they get booted from office.

Ottawa's cosy code appears to have been broken in the Airbus affair. And so it should have been—which is the second reason why a comprehensive probe is a good idea. The allegations in the affair, if proven, would amount to one of the biggest political scandals in Canadian history.

That's why it's absolutely necessary to assure Canadians that they aren't true.

This clearly will not happen if left to the footdragging of the Ottawa Liberals—who now have as much to answer for regarding their own behaviour as they do in seeing the RCMP investigation carried out with commitment and vigor. A thorough, comprehensive and independent inquiry into all aspects of the Airbus affair is an excellent idea. Canadians needs to know the truth.

That said, given what passes for government in Ottawa these days, there are only two chances of such an inquiry happening. And slim just left town.

In other words, what the article is saying is that the chances of that happening with this federal Liberal government are next to nothing.

It is absolutely imperative that every member of government, up to and including the Prime Minister, is subject to the laws of the land. The public must be confident that the federal government is not above the law. I thereby call upon the Liberal government to immediately bring in legislation clearly defining the role and independence of the RCMP in law enforcement.

I also call upon the government to properly and effectively respond to the Hughes report and all of its recommendations, not bury the truth as is customary for the government. Repeatedly the government has, when convenient or necessary, held back or shut down inquiries. We do not need to go back to all the different inquiries that it has brought these types of things into and then forgotten about. We know about the blood scandal and the Krever report. We know about the defence minister shutting down the Somalia inquiry. We know about all the other inquiries that have come forward and that the government has put a lid on.

In regard to the bill we again call on the government to make changes and to put some of them in the RCMP Act, not just in the bill.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to talk to Bill C-35, an act to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. My distinguished colleague, the hon. member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough, has covered much of the law enforcement aspects of the bill and the member for Saanich--Gulf Islands has addressed the international trade issues on behalf of the opposition coalition. I will, relatively briefly, bring up a few issues that are of concern to me.

First, some people refer to this as a housekeeping bill. I have a hard time accepting it as a housekeeping bill. This would affect a lot of different aspects of the way we do things, who does what, who is allowed to do what, the actions of the RCMP and so on. Although it would really correct or update our domestic laws to meet our international commitments, it does define a new or a more explicit role for the RCMP and in that way I find that it is a little more than just housekeeping.

Although I understand the philosophy and the purpose of the bill, I think it would create a double standard. It is a slippery slope that the government is getting on, it seems to me, where it would be establishing two sets of rules. It is saying that Canadians would be subject to the law of the land but foreigners often would not. It would expand that level of immunity and quite dramatically extend who would qualify for the immunity.

Under the bill, new organizations and new groups that are not clearly defined would qualify for immunity from certain aspects of our laws. In the other bill we have before us, the terrorism bill, Bill C-36, I notice a line which states that foreigners might not necessarily have to follow the rules of the firearms control act. I find this a little strange because Canadians obviously have to abide by these laws. It seems like the government is going from one bill to another and establishing a dangerous precedent, so we would have one set of rules for Canadians and another set for many foreigners. This would go far beyond what we have done before in allowing different groups and organizations to be recognized for these benefits.

Another concern is that the government had an opportunity here to address the issue of foreign diplomats who commit crimes or offences while under the influence. We are all very much aware of the awful tragedy that happened in Ottawa when a Russian diplomat ran over two pedestrians, killing one and severely injuring the other. Nothing has happened about that. There has been no accountability. This person had a long record of alcohol offences. Nothing was done to prevent the accident and nothing has been done to hold this person accountable. He was whisked away to Russia very quickly. When our government demanded an investigation and accountability, the Russians said if we wanted that we would have to pay them to send their investigators from Russia to Canada to investigate it. I did not see a lot of commitment on behalf of that foreign government to address this concern that outraged many Canadians.

It will be a long time before we have another opportunity to address these issues. The bill could have done that but it definitely does not. It does not address any of those issues that raised a lot of concerns. It just seems so unfair. People were outraged about the accident. Again, the bill, which reorganizes the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act, could have dealt with that but did not.

Certainly Canada has to encourage organizations to come to Canada to have their meetings, like the G-8, APEC and so on, and perhaps some of the immunity aspects have to be extended to them. Previously these immunities have been extended only to organizations and nations with which we have treaties, not just organizations that are non-structured or mobile and move around. This makes me wonder what other organizations would qualify for this immunity from taxes and our laws and who could actually commit crimes and not be held accountable. It is just a little scary.

I agree that we have to be in a position to attract these organizations. We are a well respected country and an appealing country for these types of meetings, being relatively safe and secure. We have to be able to provide the amenities and competitive immunities.

However, it seems to me that the bill goes a little too far and is not defined enough on who could qualify for these issues. For instance, it is not clear about interparliamentary meetings and things like that. Under the bill would all these members be immune from criminal prosecution or taxation et cetera?

Another aspect of the bill would change the process for allowing someone with a criminal record to come to Canada. Currently the minister has to provide a minister's permit to allow a person who has a criminal record to come to Canada. The outstanding example of this is Nelson Mandela. Not one of us in the House, I think, would ever question Nelson Mandela's right and privilege to come to Canada, speak with us and meet with us in parliament, but he has a criminal record and he required a minister's permit to allow him to come here. That would no longer be necessary because the permit would be issued under the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act and would no longer require the minister's permit.

Another part of the bill that was dealt with by the hon. member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough was the RCMP aspect. It is a very important aspect because it very clearly defines who would be responsible when international guests are here. Many people in Canada were outraged about the violence and protests during recent meetings in Vancouver and Quebec. There always was confusion about the chain of command, about who ordered the police to do what and when, whether it was political, RCMP, local or provincial police or what. The bill would correct that.

It would remove that question and would allow a lot of us to have a little more peace of mind when we are inviting meetings to Canada. I hope it would help us and help them if there would be just one police department involved with the protests. We hope they would better understand the rights of protestors to protest and demonstrate. They do have a right to protest and demonstrate, but with the confusion over who was in control of the meetings and who was responsible for policing and law enforcement, I think things happened at the meetings that should never have happened. I believe having one group in charge would be a positive move. The huge report on APEC pointed out the need for clear parameters in order for the RCMP to be able to police these meetings without having to answer to political bosses, provincial police forces and so on.

It would be a very positive step and I hope the RCMP will take advantage of the opportunity to better understand how people can be allowed to protest and demonstrate legitimately without encouraging violence or demonstrations that turn into anything other than demonstrations.

The legislation appears to cover three general types of international organizations. There are international organizations originating by treaty, for instance, NATO and the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal. They are currently covered under the immunity, which would be extended to a second category, the new international organizations with headquarters in Canada, like the IOC, the environmental secretariat and different NAFTA bodies, which are growing steadily.

The third one is stand alone organizations that move from country to country, like APEC and the G-8. I am not satisfied nor am I comfortable with how that is defined and what groups could be included. Could groups involved with the chambers of commerce and things like that come under that umbrella of immunity? We are anxious to get the bill to committee to analyze it and see if there are extended immunity rights that were never meant to be part of the bill.

There is no question that our country should be in a position to play host to these organizations. I think Canada is an attractive destination for them. Recently we moved the meeting of finance ministers to Canada because it could not be held in India. That is just an indication of what we have to offer.

To wind up, I am concerned about the double standards between Canadians and non-Canadians. The bill would extend immunity and taxation exemptions to a number of groups. It seems to ring a bell to me with extending the immunity or exemption from the firearms control act to non-Canadians whereas Canadians have to follow those rules. We need more clarification.

On the upside, the bill ensures that Canadian diplomats receive the same privileges and immunities that their representatives in Canada receive when our diplomats are in foreign countries. It has an enforcement clause and that is a good aspect in it.

We support both the purpose and philosophy but we hope there will be amendments that deal with some of the concerns which I and my colleagues have raised throughout this debate.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order in response to the question that the minister of immigration answered earlier. She asked me to table a document that backed up a statement I made. I have that document and I ask for unanimous consent to table it so the minister can look at the numbers and know that what I said was accurate.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent to table the document?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

October 22nd, 2001 / 3:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague in the coalition from Cumberland--Colchester. He is not a man who often sings his own praises, but I will briefly mention that he is very hard-working and is in fact working on bringing together a conference of individuals from the Middle East, Palestine and Israel, to talk about a resolution to the ongoing conflict taking place there. I congratulate him for his hard work on that particular issue.

I will ask him one question about Bill C-37, that being the part that was brought up earlier by the member for Crowfoot about the RCMP and its role in providing security in these kinds of situations. Could my colleague comment on whether he thinks that is addressed adequately within this bill or is there more that could be done in that particular area?

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, first, I will make it clear that I do not sing at all. I appreciate the comment, but it is an all party effort, with members of all parties attempting to bring the Israeli and Palestinian members of parliament to Canada to meet with Canadians. It has already been a rewarding experience because for eight months Israelis, Palestinians and Canadians have worked together. We have not accomplished the goal yet, but we have already made progress.

As far as the question of law enforcement, I am confident that the clarification of the RCMP as the law enforcement agency responsible for enforcement in this situation will ensure a much better reaction and law enforcement situation. Plus, if we have a group of RCMP specialists in this type of field who specialize in the management of these international events, they can understand and perhaps use their experience to improve the process so that protesters can protest and demonstrators can demonstrate without violence, without damage and without the awful circumstances involved in recent events.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I too will attest to the hon. member for Colchester--Cumberland's hard-working approach to all that he does in the House of Commons. In that regard, he reflects of course the hard-working people of his province and my native province.

As well, I thank him for the comments he has made outlining the strengths of the bill to amend the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. However, having delivered the good news to the hon. member, I was somewhat taken back when he indicated that he did not believe a thorough investigation has followed the tragic events regarding Mr. Knyazev's departure from the country and what led to it. I assure the House that we have been doing everything possible to assure that Mr. Knyazev is investigated and brought to justice.

In that regard, we have worked closely through the mutual legal assistance program with the Russian authorities. They have now completed their investigation and, in accordance with Russian law, investigators must now review their report with the victim and her family. This is consistent with their approach.

We have from the outset worked very hard to make sure that everything was appropriate, that this was a very thorough investigation, and although it has been extended, there is no concern whatsoever that any deadlines will be missed in that regard. I do feel it necessary and incumbent on the hon. member to check his empirical data in future.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

My empirical data is very simple, Mr. Speaker. There have been no charges laid and the Russians have not co-operated in the way they should have. The big one for me was, they said that they would only send Russian investigators to Canada if Canada paid. That does not show much of a commitment on behalf of the Russians to see that justice is done. Justice in this case will only be done if we pay for it even though the charges are against Russians not against Canadians. The Russians should pay for this.

However, I am not arguing that the government did not do what it could within the parameters that were available. The parameters should change, and they could have been changed under this bill, to give more access to justice to ensure that justice is done in the event that a crime like this occurs.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have one last comment. No justice is rendered if charges are brought prematurely.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, no justice is rendered if no charges are brought.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to what the member had to say about these meetings which had to do with the Middle East. It strikes me as extremely topical. Could he give us a little more information on them.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, this was a series of meetings proposed to bring Israeli members of the Knesset and Palestinian members of the legislative assembly to meet with Canadian parliamentarians. It was actually scheduled to take place last Monday but because of a change in schedules and the volatility of the situation, we had to delay it for a short time.

I am convinced that both sides are still committed to do this. As late as this morning, I talked to Israeli and Palestinian authorities and they are both still committed to come. It will be very beneficial for all of us if they can.

Again, the magic is that already the Israelis, the Palestinians and the Canadians have worked together. We have proven we can work together and make accomplishments, even if it is just a small accomplishment. I am very optimistic that if we get another chance to enhance this, we will even do better.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I also want to congratulate my friend, the member for Cumberland--Colchester, on his efforts in bringing together the Israelis and the Palestinians. As he probably knows, he has taken on a Herculean task. Nevertheless, every effort helps and at some point will be able to break the camel's back or one more straw will destroy the enmity between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

It is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-35. I want to continue down the same path that my friend from Crowfoot started down. Not long ago he gave an excellent speech in this place about some of the concerns that we have about the separation between the people who enforce the law, the RCMP, and the government.

When there is a real embarrassment facing the government, if it had the opportunity, the temptation would be to use the RCMP or any police force to try and cover up that embarrassment. I will not suggest that this government is prepared to do that, but there have been concerns in the past and we all know that. I am speaking of the APEC affair or the airbus affair of which my friend spoke. There was enough evidence in the APEC affair to warrant our concern about that possibility. In the airbus affair, we saw evidence that the government did what it could to pursue a former prime minister to the point where it cost Canadian taxpayers $3.4 million.

In Canada we have taken our freedoms for granted. For a long time we have lived in relative peace. We have never really been in a situation, not since Confederation, where our personal liberties have been seriously threatened. There have been times when there have been bumps along the road and at various points Canada has entered into great conflicts. Canadians have always valued their freedom, but unless they are threatened, after a period of time people tend to take their freedom for granted.

One of the greatest innovations of modern times is the idea of limited government. It is important to remember that for a long time in history the normal course of events was for the monarchy, or the government or the church to have all the power while individuals had none. Over the last 800 or 900 years we have seen that change. We have seen more and more rights accumulate to individuals. We should value those rights.

As somebody once said that government is not reasoned. It is not eloquence. It is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearsome master. I believe that is right. That is founded on what we know from history. Governments at various times have intervened in the ability of individuals to pursue their lives as they wished.

Any time a piece of legislation comes along that suggests that more power should accumulate to the government, in this case via the RCMP, we should be concerned. We should watch and make sure that we are not giving away freedoms frivolously or without going trough them to ensure that there is not some other way that we can deal with this. I submit that there is a different way that we can deal with this.

One of the things that legislators in general would be happy to see would be a government that recognized there was concern about its connection to the RCMP and security forces and that it would take some steps to ensure that there was, on the one hand, oversight, but on the other hand, eliminate some of the possible ways that, in this case, the Prime Minister's Office could interfere via security forces to try to cover up some kind of an embarrassment. There are ways to do that.

One way would be to involve this place, through our committees, to ensure that there would be some kind of an oversight capacity. Some people have suggested that we could set up our own committee to specifically deal with those types of things.

Perhaps it would be a subcommittee of the justice committee. It is a good idea to have some committee empowered to ensure that our security forces are not politically interfered with in some way. That is a critical point because at this point we almost leave it solely to the discretion of the ministers in charge as to whether or not they can get involved in some way. We really count on their good will.

I am not suggesting that every day it be challenged in some way, but there are times when governments could be tempted to intervene and in so doing start to limit the freedoms of individuals. At a time of crisis we need to be aware particularly of that possibility.

One possible option would be to set up a subcommittee or committee to have oversight to ensure that if some of these issues arise we have a way to look at them and deal with them.

I heard it said in this place by the justice minister today that there were concerns at this time about whether or not the government would interfere in the rights of individuals, or something like that. There have been many times when the government has interfered with the rights of individuals in Canada. I could point to Bill C-68 and suggest that the government absolutely and completely interfered with the rights of individuals when it brought in that legislation. It completely interferes with our right to private property.

Preceding Bill C-68, and I believe as a part of it, the government through order in council confiscated people's legally obtained firearms without compensation. That is completely contrary to the idea of property rights and the basic freedoms we have established over a long period of time.

Many people believe our basic freedoms were only defined in 1981 with the charter of rights. That is completely wrong. We had hundreds of years of common law tradition before then which really laid down the ground rules for our basic freedoms. Mr. Diefenbaker brought in a bill of rights which put those rights down on paper. I argue that the government violated those rights when it brought in Bill C-68 and started to confiscate firearms.

I argue that when it comes to endangered species legislation the government is on the cusp of interfering with our most basic property rights, again because it is not prepared to offer full compensation for land that is taken out of production in the hope it can somehow protect an endangered species. We have no problem with endangered species legislation, but we believe the government should ensure that the basic rights of people are protected.

There is no more fundamental right than property rights. Some people may question that, but I argue that every right is a property right. My friend from Hamilton nods his head, but every right is a property right. In fact there is only one right and it is the property right: the right to the security of ourselves, the right to control our actions, the right to acquire things. There is but one right and that is a property right in oneself.

When abolitionists were trying to get rid of slavery they used to call it man stealing because people were stealing someone else's person. I argue there is but one right and every other right flows from it: the right to property. The first right we have is the security of our own person. The right to freedom of speech flows from that. The right to freedom of association and the right to keep what we have produced with our hands and our minds all flow from the same source: the right to private property in ourselves.

When we set down laws at a time when we are concerned about having security of our person breached by forces outside our borders, we have to be careful that we do not at the same time breach them by empowering our government to do too much. That is my primary concern with Bill C-35 and actually with Bill C-36 as well, while we are talking about bills presently before the government.

There are other examples of how government has breached our rights even since I have been a member of parliament.

One thing that was most frustrating to me as an MP, as someone who comes from the west, was when the government lost a court case over the Canadian Wheat Board and moved very quickly to plug a loophole through order in council which effectively ensured that the government could stop farmers from the great crime of selling the wheat they had produced on their own land, selling it in that case to someone in the United States.

Even in Canada farmers are not allowed to sell their own wheat. It all has to pass through the Canadian Wheat Board, which is completely contrary to the--