House of Commons Hansard #26 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-17.


Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

12:50 p.m.


Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, I want to talk today specifically about the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention implementation act part of Bill C-17 for the next nine and a half minutes.

Since 1925, the Geneva protocol has prohibited germ warfare and the use of biological weapons. The convention on the prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological, biological and toxic weapons and on their destruction, better known as the BTWC, bans the possession of such weapons altogether.

The BTWC, which was concluded in 1972 and entered into force in 1975, was the first global treaty to prohibit an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. It represents a universal norm and is an important pillar of international peace and security.

Canada, which signed and ratified the BTWC in 1972, strongly supports this convention. Canada attaches great importance to full compliance with all the provisions of the convention and fully supports its purposes and objectives.

Canada does not have an offensive biological weapons program.

Canada has long sought to strengthen the international norm against biological weapons. To this end, it has participated actively in negotiations for legally binding compliance protocol to the BTWC, which would institute a system of declarations, inspection visits and investigations and create an international organization for the prohibition of biological weapons to monitor respect for the provisions of the convention.

A protocol of this nature would also require states, parties, to enact specific legislation, creating national authorities to implement its provisions.

To our profound regret, negotiations for such a protocol collapsed in July, 2001, after seven years of work, denying the world its best chance to achieve a mechanism to impede the development and spread of biological weapons.

Subsequently, last December in Geneva, at the fifth BTWC review conference, the Canadian delegation worked to promote an outcome which would have contributed to the convention's integrity and vitality by building bridges and encouraging those countries with the requisite expertise to assist others in enacting or improving their national legislation, by advocating an enhanced review process and by working for the adoption of new measures to strengthen the convention, including a viable way forward to resume negotiations for a multilateral, legally binding compliance mechanism for the convention.

It was unfortunate that the review conference was unable to achieve an outcome and that it was forced to suspend work for a year.

Let me however assure members that Canada has not given up efforts to reinforce the global ban on germ weapons. During the past year we have worked closely with like-minded countries to prepare for the resumed review conference, which concluded successfully on November 15.

Canada is pleased that the conference endorsed a multilateral inter-sessional work program that will help to strengthen the effectiveness and implementation of the BTWC and will continue to participate actively through this agreed inter-sessional work program leading to the next review conference in 2006.

We have also taken a number of steps, on a strictly national basis, with the review to reinforcing the treaty. To cite but one example, the Minister of Foreign Affairs recently sent letters to his counterparts in more than 40 states, which are not party to the convention, urging them to ratify or accede to the BTWC.

In the past year, many countries have indicated that in the light of events of September 11 and in the light of subsequent bioterrorism attacks using anthrax, they are in the process of revising or supplementing their own legislation relevant to biological weapons.

National enforcement efforts cannot substitute for an international compliance mechanism aimed at preventing the development of biological weapons but in themselves, national efforts are still valuable and necessary.

Export and import controls, licensing, domestic inspection, verification and policing all complement and buttress the global ban on biological weapons.

Article IV of the BTWC requires state parties, in accordance with their constitutional processes, to take measures to prohibit and prevent the development, production, stockpiling, acquisition or retention of banned substances and articles in their territory, jurisdiction or control.

In view of the collapse of the protocol and negotiations in July 2001 and the terrorist threat that emerged only two months later, it is now appropriate to go beyond the strict requirements of the convention and to supplement our existing legislation with an act that specifically prohibits both biological weapons and related agents.

The biological and toxin weapons convention implementation act will put Canada at the forefront of efforts to prevent biological weapons proliferation and bioterrorism. It will help Canada fulfill its obligations under the BTWC more comprehensively with respect to domestic law, ensuring that the conventions ban is respected not only by the Government of Canada, but also by individuals, organizations and institutions in Canada.

The vast majority of biological agents and types of equipment that may be employed in the manufacture of biological weapons are dual use. That is to say, these substances and articles have a legitimate, even vital, role in fields such as science, medicine, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and agriculture. Likewise, bio-defence programs intended to develop detecting devices or vaccines, antidotes and protective gear to defend against biological weapons attacks require biological agents and equipment. Dual use agents and equipment are therefore essential to our health, prosperity and security and for the advancement of knowledge.

The BTWC recognizes the dual use nature of these substances and articles by allowing agents that have prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes in equipment not designed for hostile purposes. These exemptions for legitimate use are preserved in the legislation.

The BTWC implementation act will therefore provide the legal basis to create a licensing regime for a more complete control of biological substances and articles. It will also permit the establishment of a responsible authority. It sets out the powers of inspectors charged with enforcing the act.

The legislation has been carefully drafted to ensure that Canadian procedures will be compatible with any eventual international compliance mechanism which Canada is continuing to advocate. While the licensing regime and regulations should be rigorous, they must not be excessively burdensome to legitimate users of biological agents.

Just as the BTWC is a framework convention, the BTWC implementation act is framework legislation. We expect that the process of elaborating regulations and of establishing the responsible authority and inspectorate will require intensive study and consultation with many sectors, including industry, the farming sector, universities, medical and scientific communities, research institutes as well as the provinces and territories and other interested parties. It will be important to get the details right. A one size fits all solution will not work.

The level of scrutiny and security required for a containment facility studying highly contagious diseases would obviously not be appropriate for research institutes studying low risk pathogens.

While the burdens of the act imposed on legitimate users of biological weapons will not be onerous, the penalty for illegitimate users will be severe. The development, production, stockpiling, acquisition, retention, use or transfer of biological weapons or biological agents not having peaceful purposes will be an offence punishable by a suitably stern sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $1 million. The act also sets out lesser penalties for interference with its application. These provisions will help to deter anyone tempted to acquire or to assist others, whether they are terrorists or foreign powers, to acquire biological weapons.

This act will make Canada and the world a safer place. It will help impede the development and spread of biological weapons globally. It will show that Canada is committed to the fight against terrorism. At the same time, it will underscore our active support for the BTWC, for a rules based, multilateral approach to non-proliferation arms control and disarmament consistent with Canada's historic role in furthering co-operative activity.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

1 p.m.


Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, Bill C-17 now before the House replaces Bill C-55. In fact, it is a watered down version of the previous bill. The Bloc Quebecois has been very critical of some elements of this bill.

The bill is the third attempt by the government to legislate in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It seems that the government has agreed with some of the criticism, since it has toned down its security bill. I really appreciated the very insightful statement made by the Minister of Transport, who is sponsoring the bill. He told reporters that he listened to the concerns of members of Parliament and received very good advice.

He just forgot to mention the remarkable contribution of the Bloc Quebecois.

However, there are still some left-over issues from the previous bill, namely privacy issues because of the information to be gathered by the airlines. I would like to quote the Privacy Commissioner, George Radwanski, who said:

The changes that have been made in this provision in the new bill insult the intelligence of Canadians and do nothing to address the fundamental issues of principle that are at stake.

Mr. Radwanski and his colleagues are right, because in ensuring the security of their citizens, governments should be careful not to violate their fundamental rights.

In its previous version, Bill C-17 allowed RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service officers to scrutinize list of passengers entering Canada, in order to find individuals sought by the state for a crime punishable by a five-year jail sentence. This scrutiny would have allowed the police to arrest individuals as soon as they disembarked from a plane. This provision is not completely withdrawn from the present bill, but it will not be as systematic as initially planned. Still, the RCMP and CSIS will be able to investigate airlines' passenger lists.

What will be the consequences of the exchange of information between the RCMP and CSIS?

Last May 6, the Privacy Commissioner publicly released a letter in which he explained his concerns about previous Bill C-55 allowing the RCMP and CSIS to obtain information. He expressed concerns about various provisions, including the use of personal information.

There were problems with several provisions. This was the case with the definition of warrant, the provision allowing the RCMP to obtain information in order to find individuals subject to arrest warrants, and the provision allowing the RCMP to convey information on people subject to an arrest warrant. The commissioner recommended that these provisions be withdrawn from the bill.

Our present understanding is that the government tried to tighten up these provisions but was unsuccessful.

As a matter of fact, while the RCMP can no longer obtain information for the purpose of finding an individual subject to a warrant, it can still convey to a peace officer information obtained through the provisions in Bill C-17 if it has reason to believe that this information would facilitate the execution of a warrant.

However, in actual fact, the RCMP decides by itself when there is a threat to transportation safety and can thus ask an airline for information on passengers. There is no mechanism controlling the use of this provision. In other words, the RCMP has carte blanche. Moreover, once it has obtained the information, nothing precludes the RCMP from keeping it, as long as the reasons for doing so are written down.

What is more, the government has tightened up the definition of warrant. In the previous version, it might be an outstanding warrant for any offence punishable under federal law by imprisonment for five years or more. Now the definition stipulates that there will be a regulation stipulating exactly what crimes are involved.

The commissioner also expressed serious reservations regarding how long the information could be retained: The seven day period during which the RCMP and CSIS may keep the information is excessive; 48 hours would be adequate. The fact that the RCMP and CSIS can keep this information indefinitely is of concern. There must be limits. Neither of these changes was made.

As a result, on November 1, 2002, Privacy Commissioner George Radwanski issued a press release in which he described the changes as follows:

—with only minimal and unsatisfactory changes in the replacement legislation, Bill C-17.

According to the Commissioner:

The provision in question, section 4.82 of both bills, would give the RCMP and CSIS unrestricted access to the personal information held by airlines about all Canadian air travellers on domestic as well as international flights.

He goes on to say:

But my concern is that the RCMP would also be expressly empowered to use this information to seek out persons wanted on warrants for Criminal Code offences that have nothing to do with terrorism, transportation security or national security.

This is but one of the aspects of the bill that remain problematic.

We in the Bloc Quebecois believe that the amendments introduced by the government in connection with the power of the RCMP and CSIS to gather information on air passengers are still far too broad. Although the proposed amendments may appear to be plugging some of the loopholes, the problems raised by the Privacy Commissioner remain.

We are therefore fielding the ball thrown out by the Privacy Commissioner and are opposing these new broadened police powers.

We must not forget that the new databank that the RCMP and CSIS will have the authority to create will be in addition to the new databank created by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, also condemned by the Privacy Commissioner.

Bill C-17, the Public Safety Act, 2002, clearly represents a big step back by the Liberal government, which acted much too precipitously following the events of September 11. It acted too quickly.

The new version demonstrates clearly that our criticisms were reasonable and founded. Even after the changes made, this bill remains unacceptable and is described by the Privacy Commissioner as an unsatisfactory version.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

1:10 p.m.


Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Madam Speaker, I wish to speak to the interim orders required for Health Canada that would be allowed under Bill C-17.

The bill would allow certain ministers to make interim orders if immediate action is required to deal with a significant risk to health, safety or the environment. It would allow the minister to act rapidly to address an emergency situation.

Should a threat be identified, the Minister of Health could, for example, impose more stringent controls on the storage and distribution of potentially dangerous biological or chemical products to prevent them from being diverted to terrorist purposes.

In a situation where an epidemic is developing in some part of the world, possibly as a result of terrorist activities, the Minister of Health could require persons arriving in Canada from these countries to provide evidence of immunization so as to prevent the spread of the disease in Canada.

What is envisaged are situations which may not justify a declaration of national emergency under the Emergencies Act but still require that immediate action be taken to protect the public. Indeed the scope of the powers that could be exercised under Bill C-17 would be more limited than under the current Emergencies Act. The minister could only do by way of an interim order what government could do in any event by way of regulations. It would allow the minister to adopt an interim measure pending the adoption of regulations by the governor in council.

In that vein the act would provide that the interim order must be approved by the governor in council within 14 days after the order is made, and its duration would be limited to a maximum period of one year.

It has been said that these provisions would bypass parliamentary review. The truth of the matter is, that except in some rare exceptions established by law, Parliament does not review regulations before they are adopted. Quite to the contrary, Bill C-17 would provide that the interim order must be tabled before Parliament within 15 days after it is made. Several other provisions would ensure a significant degree of control on the actions of the minister. I will only mention two of them.

The interim order would have to be published in the Canada Gazette within 23 days after it is made thus ensuring transparency of the entire process. The interim order would be subject to judicial review as are other government decisions. One must also keep in mind that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would continue to apply fully. This is also the case of the provision of the Official Languages Act which requires that orders of this nature be made in the two official languages.

The bill would provide for appropriate checks and balances, and these provisions could serve as a useful legal instrument to protect Canadians in emergency situations.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

1:15 p.m.


Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, it is appropriate to begin by reminding the House what led to today's debate on Bill C-17. This bill has been before us for a long time. It previously had different titles. It was originally known as Bill C-55, before becoming Bill C-42. It is now before us as Bill C-17. This legislation was changed and improved somewhat to meet the major concerns of the public, the main stakeholders and the opposition in recent years.

The bill was significantly amended as regards designated military zones. We can say—as my colleagues have done, and it is only normal to do so without being too boastful—that it is a victory for the opposition, a victory for individual rights over security. In this regard, the fact that this legislation has been tightened up the way it has is a victory for democracy and for the public.

During the week of recess, we went back to our respective ridings. People often ask us “What exactly is the role of the opposition?” Bill C-17 provides a good example of the role of the opposition. I do not agree with the former Minister of Finance who said that the opposition does not make solid suggestions to the House. An example of a solid suggestion that we made to the government is when we said “Listen, you are probably going a little too far with these designated military zones”. We called the government to order.

This bill, like the young offenders legislation and other bills that I could mention, provides an example of the role of an informed opposition. It provides an example of how it helps correct proposed measures. At no time have Bloc Quebecois members, and members of the other opposition parties, said “We are opposed to the bill, whether it is Bill C-55 or Bill C-42”. However, we said “Even though we agree with the idea of providing greater security for the general public, individual and civil rights must not be violated for the benefit of collective security. Let us be cautious in this regard”. We said it time and again.

People ask “What point is there to a debate, if there is no vote immediately afterward? Are these just empty debates?” We have, however, been heeded by someone somewhere. Between the two sessions there have been some positive changes made which enable us to say that this bill is an improvement. We are therefore encouraged to continue to make improvements. We are all in agreement with the principle of ensuring people's safety. As I have said, however, their rights must not be sacrificed in the process.

The Bloc Quebecois is therefore very pleased with the amendment relating to military security zones, namely that they have been done away with. On the other hand, we are still wary. We are saying to the government and the stakeholders “Heed us as you did for the military security zones. We feel some improvements still need to be made if this bill is to be the object of consensus. Consensus is the goal of everyone in this House”.

There are still problems, however, one of them concerning interim orders. Here again we have evidence of how the opposition can bring about constructive improvements to a bill, if only through what is said here in the House. Let us compare the three bills we have had presented to us concerning these interim measures: Bills C-42, C-55 and C-17. Initially, we were vehemently opposed to C-42 and C-55 as far as military zones and interim orders were concerned.

What did Bill C-42 have to say about these interim orders? The interim order was made by a minister, or in certain cases by departmental officials. It ceased to be in effect after 90 days, unless ratified by the governor in council. In other words, these were 90-day interim orders.

We said “This is terrible; it is wrong; it is dangerous. It goes beyond common senses to give so much power with respect to interim orders”. If memory serves, the government members' reaction at that time was to label us irresponsible, to tell us “These responsibilities are justified. We are entitled to have 90-day interim orders”. They listened to us, nevertheless.

When Bill C-55 was introduced, the period was reduced from 90 to 45 days, “unless it is approved by the Governor in Council”. At least, the government listened to us and reduced the period to 45 days. Still, the timeframe was felt to be unreasonable and, as a result, in Bill C-17, it was further reduced to 14 days. It went all the way from 90 days to 14 days.

To those who ask what good the opposition and its speeches are, I say that we have the ability to influence the government and bring it to make changes when it goes too far—in negotiating, one often asks for more just to get what is reasonable—and 14 days is probably more reasonable.

With regard to the introduction in Parliament of a bill like this one and the important role played by parliamentarians, members should know that there were no provisions for the tabling of interim orders in Parliament. At no time could the people's representatives have voted on or examined the orders, had Bill C-42 been passed.

In Bill C-55, the provision read “within 15 days after it has been made”. Under Bill C-55, the timeframe was 15 days from the time an interim order was tabled, and this timeframe has been maintained.

Naturally, we see that substantial improvements have been made from the initial version of the bill. However, the main problem, the lack of a preliminary review period to ensure compliance with the charter and enabling legislation, remains.

While welcoming improvements with respect to the powers of the various ministers and officials in connection with interim orders, there is a more serious problem with the new legislation before us—we are not alone to say so—and it concerns the exchange of information.

In this respect, if time permits, I would like to read two excerpts from the release by the privacy commissioner:

This same provision has now been reintroduced, with only minimal and unsatisfactory change, in the replacement legislation, Bill C-17.

He is talking about the exchange of information. And he adds:

But my concern is that the RCMP would also be expressly empowered to use this information to seek out persons wanted on warrants for Criminal Code offences that have nothing to do with terrorism, transportation security or national security.

I would like to point out to the President of the Treasury Board that the Privacy Commissioner does not respect the Official Languages Act, as far as I am concerned, or at least the spirit of the act, because he seems to have problems with our language, unlike the Commissioner of Official Languages and the Auditor General, both of whom respect the act and the spirit of the act. However, I am sure that the President of the Treasury Board was aware of this. Just a quick aside.

The Privacy Commissioner found other problems and when Bill C-42 was introduced, he was quick to voice his concerns about the broad powers that were being given to CSIS and the RCMP to obtain information on matters unrelated to security, terrorism or the protection of citizens. With these new powers, they would be able to arrest other criminals here and there, based on information they received. There was a great deal of talk about this, and “Big Brother” was what we saw.

To conclude, this bill is very interesting. It proves that it is possible to improve upon a bill. It also proves that the opposition, when confronted with a bill as important to public safety as this one is, can make real and specific proposals to improve it, calling on the government and stakeholders, so that everyone can support it.

However, at this time, we in the Bloc Quebecois still cannot support this bill because of the interim orders but, more importantly, because of the sharing of information, which, as the Privacy Commissioner has said, goes beyond the powers of this government.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Mississauga South Ontario


Paul Szabo LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to add a few points with regard to Bill C-17, the public safety act.

As the House knows, the proposed public safety act replaces Bill C-55 which was introduced on April 29, 2002. The proposed act contains a number of provisions and I would like to comment very briefly on one aspect.

The bill contains provisions whereby it would enhance Canada's secure environment for air travel. It would provide for data sharing between air carriers and federal departments and agencies. There are other provisions to deal with things like hoaxes, to establish tighter controls over explosives and hazardous substances, to help identify and prevent harmful, unauthorized use or interference with computer systems, and to deter the proliferation of biological weapons. That outlines the flavour of the bill.

I want to provide a little insight into the issue of anti-terrorism and the need for us to ensure that we are well prepared in all aspects to protect Canadians, our assets and our dear country from the threat of terrorism.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Transport, I had the opportunity to travel with the committee to Washington last spring to visit with our U.S. counterparts.

I was not aware of how deeply September 11 had touched the American people. I recall one meeting in which a senior official in the transport and anti-terrorism area of the United States government was speaking to us about some of the arrangements that the United States had made. When he got to the point where he referred specifically to September 11, he paused and I could see that he was overcome by emotion. The room went quiet. It was terribly apparent to me that September 11 was a much more serious and deeper wound to the American people than we could ever imagine.

Some have argued that the United States, being the most powerful country in the world and being involved in virtually all aspects of anti-terrorism and conflict around the world and being called upon to play a lead role so many times, will become the target of terrorism. I reject the notion that somehow those who deal with the peace and security of our globe should be targeted because they are trying to alleviate the pressures around our globe which create the environment in which terrorism might thrive.

September 11 is a proxy for all nations of peace to review and look at their own circumstances to determine what they can do to safeguard their people and their countries.

When the transport committee started to look at the security arrangements at our airports, we visited some of our larger airports to look at the provisions that had been in place and what was being planned. Even with regard to an airport such as Pearson International where new construction was going on, this was all planned in advance of September 11. How that has changed since. The initiatives of the government on anti-terrorism measures in the last round have influenced the development and construction of the new terminal at Pearson airport to ensure safety and security to a greater extent than was anticipated prior to September 11.

We also found that there were many other deficiencies, even down to things like checking baggage. The equipment that is necessary to check every piece of baggage going into the hold of an aircraft is sophisticated. It is large. It has to be staffed by properly trained people. We found out that there was not enough equipment in existence to put in our airports, so we were already starting from a deficit in terms of having the technology available to install in airports.

What was worse when we visited with our U.S. counterparts was we found that in their program to get this kind of equipment in, they found that much of the equipment was still in the wrappers in airports. It had not been unpacked. It still had not been installed. People still had not been trained.

It takes time to do these things. A lot of the coordination had not been done. It was very difficult to get many of the airports up to the level that everybody working on travel safety and security would certainly want to put in place. It was fairly clear that the intent and the requirements were well known but the ability to implement them was not.

Now there is a different dimension to the whole aspect of anti-terrorism. There has been a new communiqué issues, presumably by al-Qaeda, presumably by the world famous terrorist, Osama bin Laden. These latest pronouncements have escalated the level of concern and probably should. There are linkages to the tragedy in a Moscow theatre, the bombing in Bali and the numerous casualties there, the Chechen conflict. This incident and those people have now linked themselves to all the terrorist activities which are happening literally around the world. We have heard anecdotal comments about sleeping cells all around the world, even in Canada.

Those are the kinds of things we cannot discount. As much as we would like to say that it is not so and that we are a safe country, we are a country of riches, we are a country next to the United States of America. We have a substantial trade relationship with the Americans in a number of areas, including hydro which is a very important commodity for Canada in terms of export and for the U.S. in terms of its importation for its needs. These are areas which some have targeted as possible places in which terrorist activities may occur.

Canada is vulnerable, as is every industrialized western nation. They are vulnerable to what terrorists might do.

It is fair to say that we could not possibly insulate ourselves or protect ourselves 100% from any terrorist threat. However our role as parliamentarians is to ensure that we pass legislation which enables our country to protect itself to the greatest extent possible in the areas of highest risk.

Bill C-17 provides many of the tools that we will need to continue to build the response mechanisms that we need to reduce terrorist risk. I stress that this is almost more prevention in that it is providing the tools so that we can anticipate and detect activity which may turn out ultimately to be a viable risk to the safety and security of Canada.

For those reasons I am pleased to lend my support to the bill. It is an important bill. I understand that numerous concerns have been raised by Canadians with regard to personal privacy and related matters. Those are valid points. We as legislators will have to determine the greatest extent to which we can balance the need for personal privacy with the need for us to protect Canada.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

1:35 p.m.


Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, on behalf of the NDP caucus I am pleased to join the debate on Bill C-17.

We note that Bill C-17 represents just the latest incarnation in a series of bills that have been introduced to try and address the aftermath of 9/11. It is a top of mind issue for every Canadian and for every global citizen as we take necessary steps to add to the security of ordinary Canadians and the sense of security that they should enjoy in a great country like Canada.

Bill C-17, building off of Bill C-42, building off of Bill C-55, building off of Bill C-36 attempts once again to find a reasonable balance between the needed measures that must be taken to give Canadians confidence and those precious personal rights and freedoms by which we define ourselves as Canadians. We believe that we are still struggling to find that balance and we are not satisfied that we are there yet today. We are still very concerned that Bill C-17 may fall under the quote that was referenced earlier, that those who would trade personal and individual rights and freedoms in exchange for short term and temporary security really deserve neither.

If we are willing to compromise the very personal freedoms by which we define ourselves as Canadians for an unproven commodity, we are really being asked to buy a pig in a poke because we are not even sure that the measures that are recommended under Bill C-17 in many ways will be satisfactory or will in fact improve the level of comfort that Canadians enjoy while being secure within our own boundaries. We are not sure that balance has been reached.

Bill C-17 will be an omnibus bill once again and will seek to address the issue of the safety of Canadians in a variety of acts. An enormous number of acts are influenced by the bill, for example the Aeronautics Act, the National Defence Act, the interim order of powers, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act, the Criminal Code, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. That will give an idea to those who might be listening at home how broad and sweeping Bill C-17 really is.

We have to question if the bill has really had enough scrutiny, attention and study. Even though we debated at length Bill C-36, Bill C-55 and then Bill C-42, the same issues that we on the opposition benches have raised over and over again either have not been taken seriously or someone has failed to understand the legitimate points that keep being raised over and over by the people on this side at least.

There are people who have gone the whole broad spectrum of criticism, and there are some who fear that we are starting up that slippery slope to a police state. I do not believe that personally. I think that is badly overstating the issue. We do have to caution when we make fundamental changes to the way we have always done things and the way things have always been treated that there are those who in their zeal or just in their willingness to do their jobs well may take advantage of these measures in areas where they were never meant to be used.

I think of the simple right to protest. I come from the labour movement where it is not uncommon for my colleagues and I to find ourselves in a confrontational situation as we take our arguments to some sort of act of civil disobedience, if one will. Now, especially in what are called new military zones, that type of protest could be seriously limited. The new authorities under Bill C-17 could be exercised to stifle that sort of legitimate protest. I raise that as a point that concerns the trade unionists very much, as did Bill C-55, Bill C-42 and all the other bills leading up to this. That is only one point.

I will speak for a moment to an issue raised by one of the members of the Canadian Alliance. The Alliance believes the police or customs authorities should not have additional powers when it comes to seizing the components of explosives. I disagree 100%. I believe our customs and revenue agents should have the right to seize the makings of explosives, just as much as they have the right to seize a bomb.

As a former blaster in underground and open pit mines, I know that fairly innocuous elements can become very dangerous when put together for the purposes of making a bomb. In the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, which everyone remembers very well, the actual bomb that went off was made with ordinary Prell fertilizer. Anyone with a farming background will recognize that as a fertilizer farmers use every day. Diammonium phosphate mixed with ordinary diesel fuel blew up the Oklahoma federal building. Perhaps I should not use the brand name Prell but that is the common pellet form of that fertilizer.

Frankly, if I saw a customs officer seizing a shipment of Prell fertilizer, the purposes of which could not be clearly explained, I think those revenue agents would be doing us all a service to at least use added scrutiny when they see that type of material crossing our border. That is one element of Bill C-17 with which I have no objection at all. In fact, I applaud the initiative.

We believe that the broadening of the new military zones goes far beyond what is necessary. We note that the new military zones designated by order in council would include the Esquimalt military base and the area surrounding it, areas around Halifax, et cetera. We recognize that our military bases need to have additional scrutiny because if we are to be targeted in any way, our military zones would have to be viewed. We also think this could cross a line between what is needed and what may be used in another way.

I have seen anti-nuclear protestors outside the Nanoose Bay installations, for instance, on Vancouver Island. They were peaceful protestors who simply disagreed with allowing American nuclear submarines into Canadian waters. Under the new rules, those peaceful protestors could be hauled away, held without charge and have their personal freedom to protest violated under the bill.

The NDP has spoken out loudly against these additional measures, not all the measures but those we deem to be unnecessary and even questionable and of questionable benefit. No one has really been able to demonstrate to us why all these measures are absolutely necessary.

It was perfectly understandable after 9/11 that the government used a fairly scattergun approach. North America and our American colleagues were under attack. For all we know that same level of alert should still be in place today. However we are using a completely scattergun approach and, in our effort to cover the bases necessary, we believe we are going too far in covering things that may not have been necessary and may have been frivolous. A more cynical person would say that we are trying to achieve measures that could not be achieved through the normal course of legislation by giving additional powers to police and to officers, which the country would normally balk at.

The new tax on air transportation is one example where we believe the government took advantage of a desperate situation to initiate a tax grab that never would have been tolerated under normal circumstances. Under the guise of this renewed need to resecure our borders, we believe it snuck this new cash cow under the wire.

Let me just state for the record that the NDP caucus still opposes Bill C-17. We have serious reservations. We question the motivation of the introduction of many of these clauses. We look forward to having the opportunity to address them further.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

1:45 p.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-17, the public safety act.

The bill, which was introduced in the House last Thursday, is an improved package of public safety initiatives in support of the government's anti-terrorism plan.

The proposed public safety act 2002 contains key provisions that will increase the Government of Canada's capacity to prevent terrorist attacks, protect Canadians and respond swiftly should a significant threat arise.

The proposed public safety act replaces the old Bill C-55 which was introduced this past spring but died on the order paper when Parliament prorogued in September. The proposed act retains key principles of Bill C-55 and notably would amend two acts that fall within the responsibilities of the Minister of Natural Resources: the National Energy Board Act and the Explosives Act. Like my colleague, I will be speaking to the technical aspects of the proposed legislation.

As hon. members will recall, the federal Explosives Act regulates the importation, manufacture, storage and sale of commercial explosives along with aspects of their transportation. Natural Resources Canada's, NRCan, primary mandate is to ensure the health and safety of workers in the industry and the health and safety of the general public.

The proposed amendments to the Explosives Act are the same as the amendments set out in Bill C-55 and are aimed at protecting Canada's explosives supply from criminal and terrorist interest. Proposed are: new measures to control the acquisition and possession of explosives by potential criminal or terrorist interests; to track the consumer sale of components of explosives, such as ammonium nitrate, which was mentioned by my colleague; and to introduce export and in-transit permit requirements to complement the current import permit regime.

This will assist in Canada's eventual ratification of the Organization of American States' inter-American convention against the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives and other related materials in the OAS convention, which was signed in November 1997.

I would now like to take the opportunity to clear up some misconceptions which we have heard in the House about the proposed amendments to the Explosives Act during second reading debate of the previous bill in the last session, Bill C-55.

The reason that inexplosive ammunition components--inexplosive means non-explosive components of ammunition such as cartridge cases and bullets--are proposed to be defined and included for control under the Explosives Act is that the OAS convention captures such components in its definition of ammunition. In addition, to complete rounds of ammunition, the OAS definition also includes the propellant powder, primer, cartridge case and projectile.

The OAS regime is based on a system of import, export and in-transit licences aimed at protecting the shipment of firearms, ammunition, explosives and other related materials within the Americas from loss or diversion to criminal or terrorist interests.

This is already a known problem in some Central and South American states. For that reason, the Organization of American States, the OAS, felt it necessary for the convention to address this issue on an America-wide basis. Once the proposed amendments to the Explosives Act are enacted, Canadian importers of small arms ammunition will need to amend their existing explosives importation permits to include cartridge cases and projectiles.

There is no intention to ban, severely control or impose any further restrictions on domestic commerce if the goods were lawfully manufactured or imported.

The proposed controls for curbing illicit manufacture and trafficking of explosives are not intended to burden lawful shooting activities.

While ammunition propellant, such as smokeless powder, will continue to be defined and regulated as an explosive under the Explosives Act, no additional domestic requirements for the shipment, storage and possession of lawfully imported or manufactured cartridge cases and projectiles are intended. These proposed amendments will not adversely impact lawful shooting activities in Canada.

I would now like to turn my attention to the proposed amendments to the National Energy Board Act contained in part 14 of Bill C-17. This is the other aspect of NRCan's responsibilities in these matters.

Given the events of September 11, 2001, the Government of Canada needs to clearly define the powers of the National Energy Board with respect to security. I would like to make it clear that safety and security are related but they are not the same thing.

The National Energy Board currently has the mandate to regulate safety of interprovincial and international pipelines and international power lines. The amendments to the National Energy Board Act would provide the board a clear statutory basis for regulating the security of energy infrastructure under its jurisdiction.

The board's authority to regulate security would only apply to those pipelines and facilities that fall under federal jurisdiction. Production, treatment, refining, storage and internal distribution clearly fall under provincial jurisdiction. The proposed amendments do not apply to these facilities.

The amendments proposed to the National Energy Board Act are the same as the amendments set out in the old bill, Bill C-55, which lapsed. They would expand the National Energy Board's mandate to regulate security of installations and would provide the NEB with a clear statutory mandate to: order a pipeline company or certificate holder for an international power line to take measures to ensure the security of the pipeline or the power line; to make regulations respecting security measures; to keep information relating to security confidential in its orders or proceedings; to provide advice to the Minister of Natural Resources on issues related to security of pipelines and international power lines; and, finally, to waive the publication requirements for applications to export electricity or to construct international power lines if there is a critical shortage of electricity.

The board's inspectors would be given additional authority to make orders with respect to security matters. The ability of the board to keep sensitive industry security information confidential is essential to the exercise of regulatory responsibilities for security. The amendments therefore contain a provision enabling the board to take measures to protect information in its proceedings or in any order.

There are two tests for exercising that authority. These matters, as in other areas of security, are a matter of balance. It is essential for the board to maintain confidentiality with regard to security measures.

In conclusion, the amendments to the National Energy Board Act and to the Explosives Act contained in Bill C-17 would contribute to the safety and well-being of Canadians and provide us with better tools to address and better protect ourselves from terrorism.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, I wish to congratulate the Gwich'in chiefs and other heroic Canadians who are in Ottawa today after marching on Washington, D.C. Saturday to protect the porcupine caribou herd from oil drilling in their calving grounds in the 1002 lands of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This herd sustains a civilization that is thousands of years old and is one of the hallmarks of Canada's proud diversity.

I would like to commend the efforts of northerners like Fred Carmichael, grand chief of the Gwich'in tribal council; Peter Ross, chief of the Gwichya Gwich'in; Abe Wilson, chief of the Tetlit Gwich'in; Joe Linkletter, chief of the Vuntut Gwich'in; Ken Madsen, the walk coordinator; Wendy and the kids, Abe, Malcolm and Norma Kassi.

I was pleased to join them in Washington this past week to raise awareness of the calving grounds of the porcupine caribou herds. I wish to commend all the participants in the walk for their hard work so far.

Because of the recent elections in the United States it is important all of us here in Parliament redouble our efforts. The Canadian government has always supported this fight and we must all keep up a great fight.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, for the third time in a year I am rising in the House to bring attention to the fact that despite repeated assurances the federal government is failing to meet its service delivery standards in the processing of employment insurance benefits.

It was on September 28, 2001, that I first stood in the House to point out that laid off workers in eastern Ontario were having to wait on average 42 to 56 days to have their claims processed despite the fact that the stated goal of the government was to process such claims in 28 days. A year later nothing at all has been done to lower the waiting period. The average performance level is still twice the waiting period promised by the government and that is simply unacceptable.

The unemployed in my riding and elsewhere should not have to pay the price for the Human Resources Development Department not being able to manage its internal affairs. I have been waiting a year for the minister to address this situation.

Will laid off workers in this part of the country have to wait another year for the government to simply meet its publicly stated promise of performance?

Religious OrganizationsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Colleen Beaumier Liberal Brampton West—Mississauga, ON

Madam Speaker, Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh .

On Saturday I attended a blood donor clinic at the Dixie Gurdwara in Mississauga. Response to the clinic was so overwhelming that wait times were upward of three hours and many were turned away.

While there I witnessed the lessons of giving taught by Guru Nanak being observed by young and old alike. “The gift is in the giving” is a belief that is practised by Sikhs around the world. They feed the homeless and provide lodging, they raise money for hospitals and care for the sick, all with no publicity and no fanfare.

Tomorrow is the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and I invite all members to join me in wishing all Sikhs a joyous holy day. Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh .

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, national parks and marine conservation areas protect Canada's fabulous biological diversity. They also protect drinking water for downstream communities, provide habitat for 402 endangered species and diversify regional economies by providing long term jobs in remote areas.

They enable aboriginal communities to realize their goals for cultural, economic and ecological sustainability. In addition, they provide and present to Canadians and visitors from overseas ecologically significant examples of wilderness heritage.

We lose the equivalent of three football fields of pristine wilderness every hour. It is critical that the government move swiftly on the throne speech commitment to greatly expand our parks on land and at sea. This commitment must be fully funded in the budget.

Ken MarlandStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Canadian Alliance Blackstrap, SK

Madam Speaker, I am proud to recognize today the achievement of Mr. Ken Marland, a teacher at Buena Vista Elementary School in my riding of Blackstrap.

Two days ago Mr. Marland received the Governor General's Award of Excellence in teaching Canadian history. He and five other recipients were selected from a field of more than 150 candidates from across Canada. Mr. Marland's innovative approach to helping children learn goes far beyond traditional classroom routines.

Rather than dictate lessons directly from a textbook Mr. Marland utilizes hands-on learning and real life examples to motivate his young students to learn about Canada's rich history. By fostering an enthusiastic love of learning Mr. Marland is giving his students a chance to grow and develop throughout their lives. What a wonderful gift.

I invite all members to join me in paying tribute to one of Canada's premier teachers, Mr. Ken Marland.

Government Financial ManagementStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Madam Speaker, it is with great pride that I rise today to announce that a new study on world economic trends shows that Canada is once again a model to follow.

Indeed, the Conference Board of Canada notes the Liberal government's sound financial management. We succeeded in avoiding the world economic slowdown. Our performance in the area of job creation and economic growth is one of the best. In 2002, over 400,000 new jobs have been created in Canada.

This study merely confirms what Canadians already knew: this government's prudence, accountability and sound management are yielding results.

Today, I want to congratulate our government and encourage it to keep up its excellent work.

SportsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Madam Speaker, last Wednesday night there were Nunavut flags being waved proudly during a Hershey Cup All Star Series game at the Robert Guertin Arena in Gatineau. In front of an enthusiastic crowd the WHL Eastern Conference team defeated the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Conference team by a score of 5 to 2.

Jordin Tootoo of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, was a key player for his WHL team and was cheered on by his proud mother, Rose, who was joined by many equally proud supporters from Nunavut, some who flew down the great distance for the occasion. We were probably the loudest fans at that arena. Jordin is an excellent role model for Nunavut youth and we wish him well for the rest of his season.

I ask my colleagues to join me in congratulating Jordin Tootoo and his teammates.

Jocelyne GervaisStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, the Syndicat des agricultrices du Centre-du-Québec has named Jocelyne Gervais, a resident of Saint-Guillaume, female farmer of the year 2002.

Mrs. Gervais works on the farm with her husband and does various tasks, in addition to managing the accounts of their farm and negotiating bank loans.

A dynamic woman, Jocelyne Gervais is also very involved in her community. She is active in many social clubs, in addition to being chair of the board of the Caisse populaire Cavignac.

I hope that her example will encourage other women to become actively involved in their community.

Congratulations to Jocelyne Gervais, the female farmer of the year for the Centre-du-Québec region.

Job CreationStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, thanks to the economic climate and industrial and commercial development in Laval, the job market is expected to grow by 33,500 jobs in approximately 500 areas of activity before 2005.

This is excellent news for residents of Laval who are now, or who will soon be, looking for employment. However, 80% of these 33,500 new jobs will require greater knowledge and specialization by those who will be hired.

I am therefore particularly proud of the commitments made by the Government of Canada in its Speech from the Throne, making innovation and employment programs the centrepiece of all government actions.

Whether it be promoting learning on the job, or helping young people with their postsecondary studies, this innovation initiative will definitely provide for improved working conditions for Canadians in the future.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Peter Goldring Canadian Alliance Edmonton Centre-East, AB

Mr. Speaker, today on Parliament Hill many have gathered to support Canada's farmers.

During the French Revolution, the storming of the Bastille sparked civil change and citizens' rights, in particular, the right of farmers to market their grain as they wish. Reform was sought because French farmers were previously told how and where to sell their grain. French farmers received marketing freedom 200 years ago.

This same rights scenario is the reason for the symbolic “storming of the Bastille” today: freedom and equality for Canada's farmers. This freedom still eludes some of Canada's farmers who have suffered discrimination and imprisonment in their belief that all Canadians should be treated equally. National unity uncertainty is fostered by inequality of people and of livelihoods. All Canadians deserve and expect to be treated equally.

Today we call on our government to listen, listen to the call for equality, listen to Canada's farmers, and listen to the people of Canada.

Abba EbanStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, Israel and the international community mourn today the death of one of the greatest statesmen and diplomats of the 20th century, Abba Eban.

South African born and Cambridge educated, Abba Eban played a decisive role--joined in by Canadians Justice Ivan C. Rand and Lester Pearson--in securing support for the United Nations General Assembly resolution in 1947 calling for the establishment of a Jewish state and a Palestinian state.

As Israel's long time ambassador to the United Nations from 1949 to 1959, and as its foreign minister from 1966 to 1974, a period which spawned the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War, Eban became known as the “Voice of Israel”, resonating with its unique combination of Churchillian rhetoric and Shakespearian literacy. But even that was an understatement. Indeed, he was the voice of humanity, and his entire being was suffused with the commitment to peace between Jews, Arabs and Palestinians.

A distinguished academic, a prolific scholar, the unparalleled chronicler of his people and his country, and of civilization itself, his voice for peace is very much missed today. We have lost a great human being. We shall not see the likes of him again.

Émile OllivierStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, eight days ago, author Émile Ollivier passed away. Journalists, literary critics and friends paid tribute to him and bade farewell to this sociologist, teacher and author.

Émile Ollivier was born in Haiti. He chose to live in Quebec so that he could live in French. He was a great lover of the French language.

Quebeckers can pride themselves on the contributions by those like Émile Ollivier, who came from afar to take part in building a society that is rich and modern, thanks to its diversity. A society in which many flourish in harmony with their new surroundings, while maintaining bonds with their motherlands. The works of Émile Ollivier have left an impression, and will continue to do so, on generations of Quebeckers.

I extend my condolences to his wife, Marie-José Glémaud, his daughter, Dominique, and his granddaughter, Mélissa, and to all those who, with the passing of Émile Ollivier, have lost someone they loved and admired.

PovertyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, this year the Thompson Corps of the Salvation Army celebrated its 40th anniversary. I would like to extend my congratulations to the members of the corps and its volunteers for their hard work and determination.

The Thompson Corps began in the basement of a home and it has grown from its humble beginnings to provide community services, such as the local thrift store, the food bank and the emergency shelter. With the hard work of corps members and community volunteers, the Salvation Army raises money through its Red Shield Appeal and in the upcoming holiday season through its Christmas kettles.

In addition, the Thompson Corps and the Salvation Army, nationally with other organizations throughout Canada, provide Christmas food hampers to families in need. Regrettably, the number of families in need has grown as the problem of poverty has continued to escalate in Canada. More and more people in this country are forced to work two and three jobs just to survive.

The Liberal government needs to finally make good on its promises to help impoverished children and their families.

JusticeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Paul MacKlin Liberal Northumberland, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is Restorative Justice Week. Restorative justice is a new way of looking at a very old concept of justice. It focuses on healing the societal relationships that have been broken by criminal actions. Restorative justice seeks participation by everyone affected by the crime, victims, offenders and the community, to recognize the harm done, achieve reconciliation, and restore harmony in the community.

It is a less adversarial approach that has been used historically and also in aboriginal justice systems. Principles of this approach were added to the Criminal Code in 1996. The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized its importance, and the Law Commission of Canada endorsed it in a 1999 paper.

The government is committed to solutions that work for our communities. Restorative justice is a concept that has valid applications for all of us to learn more about it and to explore new ways to look at our criminal justice system.

St. Francis Xavier UniversityStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to rise in the House to extend my congratulations to St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, on being ranked number one among Canada's primarily undergraduate universities by Maclean's magazine.

This prestigious commendation is a ringing endorsement of the university's vision, work ethic and commitment to education throughout its almost 150 year history. Its study and research in science, business, humanities and social science makes St. FX an integral player in forming Canadian and international leaders.

I also want to welcome President Shawn Reilly and representatives of St. Francis Xavier's Coady International Institute who are joining us here today for a reception to which all members are invited. The Coady Institute's work in education, and social and economic justice is world renowned.

On behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party and all members of Parliament, I wish to commend St. FX, its administration, faculty, staff and student body on keeping it a vibrant and vital part of Canadian education and international development. Xavierians everywhere are beaming with pride.

OsteoporosisStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Diane St-Jacques Liberal Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, November is Osteoporosis Month. It is important for Canadians to become more aware of this disease, because of its stealthy nature. People can have the disease without any symptoms. It steals bone mass silently, and bones deteriorate and become more fragile.

In Canada, more than one in four women and one in eight men over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. More women die each year of fractures related to osteoporosis than from breast cancer.

Osteoporosis can be prevented by a healthy diet, including sufficient calcium and Vitamin D, combined with physical activity. Osteoporosis can be avoided. I invite all Canadians to learn more about it.

Coast GuardStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John M. Cummins Canadian Alliance Delta—South Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, on November 6, the minister for the Coast Guard advised the House that the men and women of the Coast Guard were answering the bell, yet on November 7 the minister was forced to admit to the House that the Coast Guard fleet on the east coast had been tied up because it had no money for fuel.

What he did not tell the House was that the Coast Guard on the west coast has no money for uniforms.

Internal Coast Guard documents reveal that on October 28 all Coast Guard vessels on the west coast were advised that “all uniform clothing requisitions dated from October 1, 2002, will not be processed until further notice”.

The men and women of the Coast Guard are trained to answer the bell when called to do so, but how can they do so without uniforms or without fuel for their vessels?

With winter fast approaching and with nearly five months left in the fiscal year, when will the Coast Guard be provided the uniforms it needs?

TerrorismOral Question Period

November 18th, 2002 / 2:10 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the government's right hand does not know what its left hand is doing when it comes to national security.

The foreign affairs minister said for two months that the United States had offered no justification or information for the deportation of Maher Arar. Yet we now know that the RCMP knew of Arar's activities. They questioned him nearly a year ago and they were notified weeks ago by the FBI of its information.

My question is, when did the minister know of the RCMP's holding of information on this matter?