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House of Commons Hansard #119 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendments.

Topics

Points of Order

10 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, on November 22, the member for Beauséjour--Petitcodiac said during his speech on Motion No. 241, and I quote:

In 1955, during the 200th anniversary of the deportation, all of the Acadian leaders and the Société nationale l'Assomption—now known as the Société nationale de l'Acadie—focused on the future in commemorating this tragic event from their past.

In an important speech on this very issue, Claude Bourque, a well-known reporter and writer concluded that, in 1955, the SNA ensured healing for all Acadians by forgiving those who organized the deportation.

At the time, the chief organizer of the festivities, Archbishop Adélard Savoie, who would later become the rector of the Université de Moncton, said, and I quote: “Evoking this period should elicit the profound joy of resurrection rather than the overwhelming sorrow of annihilation. Acadians should feel no resentment or bitterness at such a time. This is the generous offer of Christian forgiveness and the expression of a firm desire to continue our forefathers' work on this beloved Earth and carry out to their fullest the designs of Providence”.

However, Mr. Speaker, a member of the board of directors of the Société de l'Assomption, who was present at the celebration, and the deputy chair of the organizing committee for this event said publicly that this information was completely false and that Mr. Bourque—

Points of Order

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. From what I have heard so far, this is a debate about what a member of another party said with respect to the motion in question. I do not see this as a point of order.

If the member has something technical to add, if his point of order concerns our rules, I will allow him to continue, but I do not want this to become a debate.

Points of Order

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is a point of order. What I am saying is that the member for Beauséjour--Petitcodiac misled the House through misinterpreted remarks.

I ask that the member for Beauséjour--Petitcodiac withdraw his remarks on this topic or that he withdraw them before the House.

Points of Order

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Again, I find that the intervention by the member for Acadie--Bathurst is a matter of debate. However, I will take the time to examine the other member's remarks in greater detail and, if necessary, I will get back to the House.

Canada Elections Act

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the Chief Electoral officer on proposed amendments to the Canada Elections Act. This report is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Susan Whelan Liberal Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology entitled, “Getting Back to Business”.

The committee heard representatives from many of Canada's major industrial sectors. Some of them provided estimates of their financial losses incurred that were indirectly attributable to the terrorist attacks on the United States.

The committee advises the federal government to take bold action to resolve perennial problems at Canada-U.S. border crossings and suggests that the government undertake a number of critical initiatives.

I thank the witnesses, members of the committee and the staff, especially our researcher Dan Shaw, for their diligence.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from my constituents regarding the fishing industry and the inland fisheries of Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba.

The petitioners ask that the Parliament of Canada, the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation and the legislative assembly of Manitoba grant the Lake Manitoba Fishers' Association membership an unrestricted licence to market their coarse fish, which is a big issue for these fishermen.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

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

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

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

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

moved:

That in relation to 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, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage of the bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill and fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government business on the day allotted to the consideration of the report stage and on the day allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In accordance with the new procedure regarding time allocation, there will now be a 30 minute question period.

Before I begin the 30 minute period, I will ask if members on both sides of the House could give the Chair and the House some indication as to how many are intending to participate in this 30 minute period. Please stand and give the Chair an indication.

With the co-operation of everyone, the minister and those asking questions, the 35 seconds will certainly not apply. Having said that, I hope the questions will be put in a reasonable period of time, approximately a minute or so. Likewise for the responses. We will have as many people participate as possible.

I will begin with the leader of the official opposition.

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, since September 17, the official opposition has been pushing hard for tough anti-terrorism legislation that would provide for the safety and security of our citizens. There are some important measures in the bill which the government has agreed to for which the official opposition asked, but there are some glaring holes in this wall of protection that should be there for Canadians.

There is no ban on membership in terrorist organizations. Unbelievably there is still parole eligibility for terrorists convicted of mass murders. If the person who planned the World Trade Center bombings, which killed thousands of people, was in Canada and was charged and convicted of this act, unbelievably he would be able to apply for parole. That is unacceptable.

There is nothing in the legislation to speed up extradition from Canada or undo the damage of the Burns v Rafay decision, which allows criminals to flee the consequences of their actions if they can make it to Canada and hide behind our softer laws. It is very difficult, if not impossible, for those people to be extradited to face the consequences of their actions.

Finally, the bill does nothing to improve our ability to detain and deport false refugee claimants who hurt genuine refugee claimants. Nothing is being done in these areas.

I ask the minister these questions. Why is the government now, through closure, slamming the door on the possibility that we could provide true safety and security for our citizens? Why will the government not allow the time for Canadians to be properly alerted to the dangerous and gaping holes? When will the government allow the time as well as the measures, even in other legislation, to close these holes and truly protect the safety and security of Canadians? Why is the government doing this?

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Edmonton West Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, if the official opposition were truly interested in the security and safety of Canadians, as opposed to stonewalling in terms of the passage of this legislation, it would be supporting us in our efforts to pass this legislation and have it implemented expeditiously.

Let me respond to a few of the questions asked by the leader of the official opposition. In terms of membership, we have talked on a number of occasions in the House and in committee. The leader and I have had the opportunity in committee to engage on this question and I have explained that what we concentrate on in our criminal law is conduct. What we want to do is ban conduc, not status.

Generally in the criminal law of our country we do not prohibit on the basis of status, that is, who someone is as opposed to what the individual does and the harm resulting from the conduct that would put in jeopardy Canadians and their families.

What we are targeting is conduct: the participation, facilitation, instruction, recruitment and financing. We believe this is a much more effective way to protect the interests of Canadians and their families, than to worry about the status of an individual. That status can be easily concealed and changed. Therefore it is much more important to target the conduct.

The leader of the official opposition talked about the extradition procedures. This legislation does not deal with extradition. I had the pleasure two years ago of taking forward a complete reform of Canada's Extradition Act, the first major reform of that legislation in 90 years. That reform was done in part to ensure that our processes permitted expeditious extradition to countries around the world with whom we had either treaties or other forms of arrangements.

I know my time is up, so I will end my comments there, although I acknowledge that there were a number of other questions asked by the Leader of the Opposition.

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. First, as a result of our questions in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, we have learned that there is no indication at the present time that Canada could be a terrorist target. This is one thing that must not be lost sight of.

Also, a scant 72 hours after Bill C-36 was tabled, in this very place I questioned the Minister of Justice on certain provisions of the criminal code. She answered that the criminal code contained everything necessary to fight organized crime effectively. I remember very well that she even ridiculed the Canadian Alliance's desire for anti-terrorism legislation.

Suddenly, we learn that the Minister of Justice has hurriedly drafted a bill. It is tabled, then rushed through committee. Witnesses told us that they did not even have 48 hours to prepare, to properly study the bill.

Then the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights sat until three in the morning to study it clause by clause and push it through. The minister tabled amendments on the spot, out of the blue one might say, ones the Liberals had not even seen and which they blindly passed.

Today, they are putting a gag on us at the report stage, the 72nd one this government has imposed.

My question is a simple one: given the exceptional nature of this bill, given that individual and collective rights and freedoms are being wiped off the map by the Liberals, regardless of the minister's claimed desire to hear what the taxpayers had to say—which she obviously did not do, nor did she heed the Senate—where is the urgency to once again rush things and not at least listen to what the people's elected representatives have to say on a bill such as this?

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Anne McLellan Liberal Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, on the hon. member's point in relation to time, let me just remind the hon. member and everyone here that Bill C-36 has had extensive debate in the House of Commons. We had almost 13 hours of debate over a three day period on October 16, 17 and 18, at second reading, including an extension of hours on October 16.

The House committee on justice and human rights as well as the special Senate committee on Bill C-36 have thoroughly studied the bill. The House committee heard from over 60 witnesses over a three week period. I think this kind of intensive study by committee is something quite unusual. The special Senate committee also put in place a procedure, a pre-study plan, to ensure that the House committee, the government and I could be informed of the issues in and around the legislation.

Report stage began yesterday. There were over five hours of debate. Unfortunately, when it became clear to the government House leader that opposition members would not co-operate in the expeditious passage of this legislation after this extensive consideration, the government House leader moved time allocation.

We have heard especially from the official opposition. I could quote the hon. member for Provencher, who said the following on October 16 “After years of inaction and denial the light finally went on over there”.

We are acting to protect the safety and security of Canadians. It is too bad that the opposition could not act with us--

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. I would ask for the co-operation of all members in the House so that we might be able to hear questions and responses. The hon. member for Winnipeg--Transcona.

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the minister answer the previous questions. I know we are making some kind of parliamentary history today. Only the future will tell whether it is worthy history or not, but this is a new procedure and we should celebrate the fact that we have an opportunity to question the minister in this way.

When I listened to the minister, she was very clear in her answer about why the government decided not to criminalize membership. She talked a lot about status, yet it seems to me the government has included a form of status in its definition of terrorist activity when it talks about people who do things for political, ideological or religious reasons. This is a form of what she has said she is trying to keep out of the legislation, but that is not my main point.

Does the minister not see that there is something fundamentally wrong at a procedural level, at the level at which we talk about genuine democracy, to move time allocation or closure on the first day of debate after something comes back from committee?

There is no justification whatsoever for the government House leader or anybody to prejudge whether or not the opposition will behave in a particular way, on the first day after this comes out of committee and on a day in which we had some difficulty accessing amendments because of confusion about process, and to move time allocation. Does she really think that it is defensible? I do not think it is defensible to move closure even after the opposition has spent days and days debating things and then is at least open, perhaps not fairly, to the charge of obstructing the legislation.

How on earth does she expect to justify that particular manoeuvre on the part of the government?

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Anne McLellan Liberal Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, as I said, there has been an exceptional amount of debate, both in the House at second reading and at committee, in relation to the legislation. As my parliamentary secretary reminds me, there were even emergency debates following the tragic events of September 11.

Committee members obviously had the opportunity for some days to reflect upon amendments that they would propose and that we have proposed. It was a week ago that I was at committee proposing amendments that the government put forward to improve the legislation, all of which in some part were based upon what we heard before committee.

Now is the time to move forward. Canadians expect their government to act to ensure their security and safety. Our allies around the world are moving and it would be irresponsible for us, as a government, not to move. A government's primary obligation is first and foremost to ensure the safety and security of its people.

What we are doing in Bill C-36, and subsequently in Bill C-42, is putting in place the legal and operational infrastructure necessary to provide Canadians with that degree of safety and security that permits them to get on with their lives.

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to see the minister here. She absented herself from the debate yesterday, but this is an opportunity at least to ask direct questions to the minister on a very important issue.

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Anne McLellan Liberal Edmonton West, AB

My parliamentary secretary was here. He is my representative.

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Yes, we all want to move forward on matters of security and yet we know that there is the real possibility of sacrificing Canadian civil rights in this process, particularly when it comes to access to information.

I know the minister came directly from the classroom to cabinet and perhaps bypassed the courtroom, but does she understand the implications of issuing a certificate in which information can be denied to Canadians?

The parliamentary secretary went to great lengths to tell us there was a process and that one could always go to the federal court. The privacy commissioner or information commissioner could commence an action in the federal court. The issuance of the certificate can come after the fact, then the person can launch another suit in the Federal Court of Appeal.

Does the Minister of Justice fully comprehend the expense and time involved in an individual citizen of the country launching two simultaneous lawsuits against the federal government and does she really think that it will satisfy Canadians who want to get information about why they have been placed on a list of terrorists if a mistake has been made? Does she really think that justice will be done if that process is undertaken?

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Anne McLellan Liberal Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what the hon. member is talking about. He seems to confuse the listing process which is the responsibility of my colleague, the solicitor general. It is a process which is replete with opportunities to seek a review of any inclusion in a list.

My direct responsibility under the legislation as attorney general is the issuance of a certificate to protect in limited circumstances certain categories of sensitive information relating in particular to national security.

Let me remind the hon. member as I did in committee that other countries, especially our allies, have similar procedures whereby a member of the executive, the attorney general or another designated minister can issue a certificate to prohibit certain sensitive information from being made public. As with other countries, due to our amendments we have a process of judicial review whereby a judge can review my decision to issue a certificate.

I heard the hon. member say that other countries do not do this. In fact other countries do this, including the United States where I believe it is the attorney general who can issue a certificate to prohibit disclosure in certain circumstances.

Anti-terrorism ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are deeply concerned about the arrogance and the heavy handedness of the minister and the government. Members of the Canadian Alliance on the justice committee worked in a co-operative fashion with the minister and the Liberal members to expedite the amendment of the bill and its passage through committee.

Members of the House are now entitled to review the bill and debate its provisions after working so hard on the bill. To use my comments that urged the government to bring forward legislation and to say now that we should close debate is perverse.

My colleagues who were not on the committee are entitled to be heard now that the bill has come to the House since they were not present in committee. The parliamentary secretary to the government House leader said the decision to close debate was made because the opposition indicated it wanted to discuss the bill in detail, which would have delayed passage of the bill.

We have one day of debate in the House on one of the most significant bills the House has seen. What excuse can there be for the minister acting in this high-handed fashion?