House of Commons Hansard #181 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-55.


Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to)

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia


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

Madam Speaker, I seek unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, in relation to its study on long term care for veterans, the Sub-Committee on Veterans Affairs of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs be authorized to travel to western Canada from May 26 to 31, 2002, and that the necessary staff do accompany the committee.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

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

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Some hon members


(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-55, an act to amend certain acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for Scarborough--Rouge River for his comments in regard to the bill.

When Bill C-42 was brought forward, obviously the opposition pointed out the inadequacies of that bill. We commend the government for recognizing that it was a huge infringement on rights and that it would not satisfy the terrorist threat. We believe the government has come back with another bill that shows half measures. However, I was encouraged by the comment of the member for Scarborough--Rouge River in which he suggested that because the bill is dealing with transportation issues in only one-third of it, the bill would receive better scrutiny before the justice committee. I think that was how he worded it.

Therefore my first question for the member is this: Is he telling us that he will support the amendment brought forward by the opposition to do exactly that, to move the bill from the transport committee to the justice committee?

My other question relates to my concerns about the bill as brought forward by the hon. member when he mentioned that interim orders need not be brought down by a cabinet minister but by a government official. The bill gives specific definitions of who the ministers are. In one part it refers to the Minister of Transport or the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Again our concern is that we are seeing an eroding of parliamentary process and accountability. What is explained in the bill is that it is a minister of a certain department. Now he explains that it is not even that but a government official, so someone who is not even an elected member can invoke these interim orders. Is that how we should understand it?

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

10:50 a.m.


Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Madam Speaker, on the first question, I would certainly be in support of sending the bill to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. I would not want to support a motion that had contained in it an opposition poison pill of some sort. Where a bill goes for study is really determined by members in the House. The government of course has an interest in that sometimes, but I think we can probably work this out. That would be my objective.

Second, in terms of who makes interim orders, as I said in my remarks, it is usually a minister but in many cases the minister has designated that authority to a specific government official or category of official. That is most appropriate at times. For example, when there is a train accident and an inspector is on the site dealing with hazardous goods, we have to allow that inspector, that federal official on the site, to make the appropriate order. It is not always practical to have the minister on the phone. By the way, this is a fairly structured system within the privy council and within government. It is not as if anyone can make the order. It is actually quite organized and specific.

We might also note that when we come to the military exclusion zones the section states specifically that the Minister of National Defence personally may make the order. That is one where the statute does not allow the delegation to a government official.

The process that we are dealing with here already exists in government. We are not all familiar with it, but it is quite organized thanks to a very strong public service. We have all been well served by the privy council and its officials over many years here.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Chicoutimi—Le Fjord Québec


André Harvey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, I would like to point out my colleague's good speech. He demonstrated a great deal of knowledge on this matter. In fact, it prompts us to adopt 20 amendments to 20 different acts.

There have been concerns voiced on one of the aspects of Bill C-55, which is part of our antiterrorism plan. It is obvious that we will not get rid of terrorism with a little soap and water.

When Bill C-44 was being considered, there was fairly broad support for the exchange of information between our services and the U.S. government. We must not forget that the reaction of most western countries to terrorism is a result of solidarity with the U.S., particularly in this country, given that it is our main trading partner. After all, the United States is our neighbour. They suffered thousands of deaths because of terrorism, which has infiltrated just about every country.

At the time, we believed, and we still do, that exchanging information on passengers to the United States was perfectly legitimate. It was broadly accepted that we should share this information.

With this bill, clearly what we also want is that the information exchanges with the U.S. government to detect international terrorists be done in direct co-operation with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

I would like my colleague to highlight the importance of very close co-operation between carriers and our security services here in the country.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

10:55 a.m.


Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Madam Speaker, when people buy airline tickets they do not need to have criminal record checks. Let us suppose someone suspected of hijacking an aircraft a year ago in some other country happened to be in Canada, the paperwork had not followed and he or she had not been arrested. Let us suppose such a person went to buy an airline ticket. Surely the average Canadian would agree that a warrant for the arrest of an accused or convicted hijacker is relevant to whether the person should be allowed to get on an aircraft.

The only way we can deal with this is to allow passenger lists to be verified in the usual way by our police forces. They can do this kind of thing using the databases and indices they normally use. This would mean turning passenger lists over to the RCMP and/or CSIS. We do it now with the American authorities so we can fly our aircraft into American airspace. Under Bill C-55 we would do the same thing here. If we did not we would be stupid.

Are there privacy issues? Yes, there are. Everyone who bought an airline ticket would have his or her name on a list that went through a computer search. That is one of the implications of 9/11. We must realize that. We all said it would happen. We all said the world would change. We said big brother would be following right behind. It is here and we must deal with it.

I am not prepared to accept that we cannot find out who is getting on an aircraft because of privacy concerns. Our police make us all more secure in the public interest. We must let them do their job. We must co-operate not only with our police but with police agencies in other countries. We will find a way to do it properly.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

11 a.m.


Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Madam Speaker, there is not a whole lot of time and I have a number of questions and comments. First, the hon. member indicated the Statutory Instruments Act would apply in this case. Clause 74 of Bill C-55 would add the new section 260.1 to the National Defence Act. Subsection 260.1(7) would read:

Subject to subsection (6), a designation may be renewed

(a) by the Minister personally, on the recommendation of the Chief of the Defence Staff, if as a result of the renewal the designation would be in effect for one year or less; or

(b) by the Governor in Council, if as a result of the renewal the designation would be in effect for more than one year.

Subsection 260.1(9) would read:

A designation, renewal, variance or cancellation is not a statutory instrument within the meaning of the Statutory Instruments Act.

Subsection 260.1(10) would begin as follows:

As soon as possible after a designation--

The last sentence of subsection 260.1(10) would read:

--may be affected by it, unless the Minister is of the opinion that it is inadvisable to do so for reasons of international relations or national defence or security.

It would still give a whole lot of leeway. That is one point.

With regard to the Nanoose Bay situation in B.C., land was expropriated by the federal government from the provincial government. The Canadian government went into a lease arrangement to have a nuclear submarine in Nanoose Bay. The federal government recently lost that court case. Does this allow the federal government to put in an interim order to allow a nuclear submarine in Nanoose Bay? This is something the courts in Canada have said is not allowed.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

11 a.m.


Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member is right. However she is talking about designations under the National Defence Act. I was talking about the dozen to 15 interim order scenarios created by the bill.

The hon. member has read the act and it is fairly accurate. If a Canadian or foreign military ship were in Nanoose Bay carrying on exercises, yes, it would be possible to create a military exclusion zone for that purpose.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Crowfoot.

We are here today to debate Bill C-55, an act to amend certain acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety. The government of course believes the legislation is perfect. Judging from the speeches I have heard today and previously the government resents legitimate criticism from the opposition parties. Bill C-55 is no different from any other legislation the government has brought in since I have been in parliament. It is inevitably flawed to the point that it needs dramatic amendments.

Bill C-55 would amend 19 acts of parliament. The government will try to deal with all this within the transport committee. It is an impossible chore for the committee. It will not end up doing a good job.

Bill C-55 has some good aspects. It would make air rage an offence. I hope it would impose a sufficient mandatory minimum penalty for that. However signs at airports already say people who commit air rage or make bomb or weapon threats around airports or on airplanes will be immediately charged. There is legislation in the criminal code that makes terrorist hoaxes an offence. However if Bill C-55 made the offence more serious and the penalties stronger, in the interest of public safety I could support it.

The control of explosives in Canada is an issue that has not been adequately dealt with. Many explosives have been stolen during break-ins, particularly by motorcycle gangs. The RCMP and other police forces have been unable to fully contain the smuggling of explosives across our borders. Criminalizing this area and having stiffer penalties is a good idea.

However the overall bill is inadequate. It is a combination of flawed elements and half measures designed to mirror U.S. legislation. It is a power grab by cabinet ministers. I will deal with that in a bit when I speak about interim measures.

With regard to transportation issues Bill C-55 is a late, pale reflection of the legislation of our American counterparts. The U.S. introduced, debated, amended and enacted much more comprehensive security legislation within eight weeks. As I said at the start, our government brought in flawed legislation, Bill C-42. It has now withdrawn Bill C-42 recognizing it did not get it right. It will argue it has now got it right but this has not happened either.

It is a funny thing. The hon. member for Scarborough--Rouge River talked about interim orders. He said if there is a train wreck a minor official in a government department can make an interim order to try to deal with the situation. This shows that the government does not fully understand the situation the world is in with the war on terrorism. If we had a terrorist attack in Canada it would be an awful lot more than an average train wreck.

I do not know what the minister and the Prime Minister will be doing on the day the media and Canadians announce that there has been a terrorist attack. I certainly hope they will not be out golfing and say “We will not be in until tomorrow because that is when we go to work. We will just let the officials take care of it”. That would be totally unacceptable. However that seems to be what the member for Scarborough--Rouge River was saying, that this would be equivalent to a train wreck and that we were not to worry about it.

The bill would invest a lot of power in the ministers and, as I have said, it should be the ministers who take the responsibility for a terrorist attack because that is a much higher level of war than we are at now. It would also give them the power to pass an immediate order equivalent to regulations passed by cabinet. These interim orders need to be approved by cabinet 40 days after they are declared. This is of course 31 days more than the current situation, which is now 14 days under the Aeronautics Act.

Given that the sweeping powers already exist in the Emergencies Act to declare a public order emergency, I cannot imagine that a terrorist act would not be considered as such when it is directed toward Canadians on Canadian soil.

The new interim orders may not really be necessary in most cases because the level of the attack will indicate that we are on a much higher level of war footing than just a small incident, almost a criminal incident.

Having made that point, I would like to talk for a moment about the interim orders that allow a minister to react to an incident. They have to notify parliament. The suggestion was made that if parliament does not sit in the summer then it would, in effect, not get notified until maybe the fall when members returned or maybe after the Queen has been here and made the throne speech for us.

I cannot imagine a government with a more ridiculous view of terrorism and war than to suggest that we would not recall parliament immediately after an attack on Canadian soil of Canadian citizens by a terrorist organization committing an act that results in death and/or bioterrorism on our agricultural sector. The idea that these officials would somehow be making these interim orders is just ludicrous.

When parliament is notified, and I would suggest it be recalled immediately, a motion should be brought forward to parliament setting out the nature of the terrorist attack and of course a full assessment of what happened. Parliament should debate and then decide whether or not an extension is needed of another 100 days.

The government continues to want to work around parliament on virtually everything, including something like a terrorist attack which is an act of war directly on Canada.

In talking about bioterrorism, the United States congress is passing a terrorist bill and a U.S. farm bill that will cripple our country's agricultural sector. The bill will severely affect our exports at the border, all under the guise of safety from agri-terrorism. This is where our legislation does not move toward harmonizing a North American response to the threat of terrorism.

As a result we will find some negative economic consequences where we are out of lockstep with the United States on the terrorist issue. I mentioned our food exports as the main one. Our exporters will need to notify the U.S. border up to 12 hours in advance of shipments of food. Delays caused will radically limit the export of time sensitive agriculture exports.

In conclusion, the government does not have the legislation right. Our critic in this regard will be bringing amendments forward and we will be debating this in committee. Hopefully the government will break the legislation up so committees can study it fully and with full thought and bring back appropriate amendments that will in fact make the legislation as good as it should be.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and participate in the debate on Bill C-55. As has already been mentioned, Bill C-55 amends 19 different acts of parliament and would enact or enforce an international treaty.

What are the goals of the legislation? We need to draw to the attention of Canadians and to the House that this is another one of those omnibus pieces of legislation. It is a mixture of good, bad and ugly. Some parts of Bill C-55 are good but it is mainly made up of the bad and ugly.

The legislation proposes to make air rage an offence and to strengthen security at restricted areas in airports. It would require transportation companies to provide information on the passengers who will be travelling on their modes of transportation. It would criminalize terrorist hoaxes. It would provide for more control over explosive and sensitive exports. It would provide the name of controlled access military zones and would implement the biological and toxin weapons convention.

In the opinion of the official opposition, it is inadequate legislation inasmuch as it would enact half measures and would undemocratically empower cabinet ministers without any regard to the checks and balances offered by parliamentary review and scrutiny.

Bill C-55, like its predecessor Bill C-42, retains government rule by executive orders, a method of ruling that the government finds comfortable. The only difference is that the new bill would require cabinet ministers to have their decisions reviewed by cabinet within 45 days as opposed to the 90 days that Bill C-42 proposed.

Within 15 days parliament would be informed, not consulted and not questioned, of the decision that would already have been made by cabinet or a minister. Effectively the provision negates parliamentary or judicial scrutiny, a necessary procedure to safeguarding civil liberties and the rights that Canadians enjoy.

These powers are indicative of the Liberal Party, a government that has little respect for openness and transparency.

We have already talked to some degree about the 1985 Emergencies Act. In my opinion, not necessarily the opinion of all here, the Emergencies Act lends sufficient means to combat terrorism while effectively balancing safety concerns with freedoms. It grants the government the power to declare emergencies and to take the steps it deems appropriate but only for a limited period of time, steps that are, I might add, subject to a full parliamentary review.

Despite the cosmetic changes, we remain opposed to these interim orders which, in the view of the opposition, is nothing more than a power grab.

The amendments in part 4 of Bill C-55 are a little different because this is omnibus legislation. Part 4 amends the criminal code by making hoaxes regarding terrorist activity an offence. This section is completely unnecessary inasmuch as it does absolutely nothing to deter terrorist activities or to enhance public safety, which is supposed to be the thrust of the legislation. Any hoax, whether it is in regard to a bomb threat, to organized criminal activity, to a terrorist activity that endangers or threatens public safety or heightens public anxiety or causes the public to be frightened or concerned about a hoax, should be deemed an offence and the criminal code should be amended to make sure that is covered.

In my opinion the criminal code amendment is more about political correctiveness than it is about criminal behaviour. We are talking about hoaxes. It is more about being politically correct. It is more about the government looking like it is doing something when in fact it is doing next to nothing to combat terrorism and thwart terrorist operatives from using this country as a staging ground for terrorism.

These particular amendments in the public safety act, 2002 do nothing to prevent terrorist attacks or to protect Canadians, which the government professes that the bill should do. This is particularly disturbing given the recent warnings of the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, CSIS.

On Monday of this week, CSIS director, Ward Elcock, warned participants at a terrorism and technology conference in British Columbia that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network has trained enough terrorists to pose a threat for years. He stated:

Given what we know about the number of individuals who have gone through bin Laden/al-Qaeda terrorist training camps, and the fact that many are now entrenched around the world, even though their capacity has been degraded or disrupted, it will take some time, perhaps years, to deal with those elements and assure ourselves that the threat has been defeated.

Mr. Elcock also warned:

Canada has moved beyond being used strictly for logistical or support activities by terrorist organizations and there is now a demonstrated willingness by certain groups to use Canada as a staging ground for terrorist attacks.

These are attacks that can be launched without detection or deterrence because of technological enhanced abilities.

The head of CSIS said that Canada must establish new partnerships with industry in order to come up with new technology that is going to help track terrorism and terrorist activity. The bill does little to accomplish that end.

This is also true with regard to money laundering, and the bill deals a bit with money laundering. An international forensic accountant stated that “as law enforcers get wise to money laundering, criminals are finding ever more ingenious ways to hide their dealings”.

In essence what these two experts are saying is that we must devise new ways and means to stay ahead of criminals, particularly organized criminals and those involved in criminal activity that are there to support terrorism.

For years Canada was considered one of the best places in the world to launder money because we have the largest unprotected border in the world, which makes it easy for dirty money to pass from the United States into Canada and vice versa. Because Canada was one of the last industrialized countries to establish adequate measures to combat money laundering, it is encouraged to a certain degree by those of terrorist affiliation.

According to the solicitor general, between $5 billion and $17 billion is laundered in Canada each year. The international monetary fund estimates that worldwide money laundering ranges from $590 billion to $1.5 trillion annually, or between 2% and 5% of the entire global gross domestic product, GDP.

Optimistically, the situation was to change somewhat in Canada after October 2000 when Bill C-22's regulations came into effect. However, Wayne Blackburn, a former superintendent of the RCMP's Ontario economic crime branch and proceeds of crime experts, said that as criminals figure out that the police can now generally follow money from a drug deal and freeze and seize it if it is in a financial institution, they have come up with another way to clean money up: by using it to purchase commodities.

Money laundering is a huge concern in Canada. Drug traffickers around the world launder money. They get American dollars and transfer them into companies. They exchange them for commodities. They change dollars to pesos so they can use the currency of the country that they are involved in.

Bill C-22 requires that any cash transactions of $10,000 or more be reported to financial institutions. However, terrorists and people involved in organized crime are using the elderly to bring in and despoit money into banks in Canada. It is called “smurfing” in Canada. They are using the elderly to depost dollars into their account, what we may call dirty money, and then they take the money out and put it into terrorist activities.

There is a problem. CSIS has lost so many analysts. CSIS has lost so many investigative reporters. The number 35 has been mentioned. The bill does not adequately deal with the concerns that CSIS and others have with regard to terrorism and it should go back.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciated my colleague's comments. He was just getting to some crucial points in his speech. I was wondering if he would elaborate further on the details that he ended with.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the excellent opportunity. I appreciate it.

I want to go back to some of the concerns about money laundering here in Canada. One report referred to the scheme as black peso money laundering. I will explain the system. I wrote down some points and I was hoping I would have time to talk about it.

This is part of what happens with terrorism and organized crime. Drug traffickers require pesos to pay for their lavish lifestyles in Colombia but most of their money is in United States dollars. They sell their United States dollars usually for 20% or 30% less than the exchange rate to Colombian based companies in exchange for local currency. The companies in turn buy commodities that are then sold in their stores. They have received the currency exchange. The companies have stocked their shelves with commodities and the laundering continues.

The black peso system is but one new cat and mouse game of money laundering that is played between criminals and law enforcement officials. It is next to impossible to enforce.

An investigative researcher claims that as a result of Bill C-22, criminals will become more violent and intimidating when trying to coerce individuals. This expert stated with regard to the Mafia:

Before C-22, you had guys taking big bags of money to a friendly corrupted bank manager, who would get a percentage for facilitating the transaction. But now the risk and the penalties are so great that fewer people will be willing to co-operate, so the criminals will either take control of some financial institutions or resort to strong arm tactics.

Furthermore, given that Bill C-22 requires any cash transactions of $10,000 or more be reported to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre, there will be the introduction of what I previously mentioned as smurfing within Canada.This is the practice where the elderly fall prey within our country. It is going on right now.

I would suggest that Canada does not have the resources or the expertise to deal with the extent of the raising of dollars for terrorism or organized crime. There is a lack of resources in CSIS and the RCMP.

There is really no opposition to part 16 of Bill C-55 which amends the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act to allow for greater sharing of information. However we do remain opposed to the bill because we believe it has inadequate measures to deal with the onslaught of terrorism that we see coming.

On the question that was posed by my colleague, I want to quickly say that we have no problems with some parts of the bill, parts that would help the RCMP and CSIS to locate and to enforce the measures that are already here in Canada. We want to see more dollars available for the RCMP.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has gone from 2,700 and some employees down to 2,100. Why has it downsized? Why are we losing so many individuals out of our intelligence gathering agency? It is because the government has shown a lack of commitment through the years. That lack of commitment is now causing our country and even other parts of the world to be at great risk.

The Senate reports and other reports suggest that there are 50 terrorist groups in Canada. The response from the government is it comes out with Bill C-55, a bill that does not answer the concerns of the RCMP and CSIS.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

11:25 a.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Sarmite Bulte LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, I too am pleased to speak to Bill C-55, the public safety act. The public safety act 2002 is part of the Government of Canada's anti-terrorism plan which actually began with the anti-terrorism act, Bill C-36, and which was bolstered by a $7.7 billion investment in budget 2001.

Where the anti-terrorism act focused mainly on the criminal law aspects of combating terrorism, this bill addresses gaps in the federal legislative framework for public safety and protection. It is also very important to remind everyone that Bill C-55 is an improved package of public safety initiatives in support of the government's anti-terrorism plan.

While Bill C-55 retains key elements of Bill C-42, which was withdrawn on April 24, it also incorporates a number of very important improvements. It is very important to remember that the new revised bill is responding and has responded to concerns that were expressed about Bill C-42.

It is important also to remind members and Canadians of what the Minister of Transport said when he tabled the legislation in the House. He stated:

We have taken the input of parliamentarians, provinces and territories and others, and used it to significantly improve this legislation. It responds to the need for enhanced security while respecting the rights of Canadians.

It is very important that we look at that sentence. We are talking about finding a balance.

The hon. member who just spoke said that we have not taken into account the RCMP's concerns and that we have not taken into account financial institutions. We have consulted with Canadians. We have looked at the importance of being Canadian and what our values and rights are. That is what the government tries to achieve, a balance, the right balance to protect those things that are important to Canadians and to protect our charter of rights and freedoms.

The bill seeks to amend 20 acts and enacts a new one. People should know what those acts are. Included in the amendments are the Aeronautics Act, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act and the Marine Transportation Security Act. There are also amendments to the criminal code but this is with respect to hoax offences. The bill also amends the Export and Import Permits Act, known as the EIPA, and the National Defence Act.

The act to be enacted is the biological and toxin weapons conventions implementation act. Before I speak about two very specific acts, it is important to talk about what the new act will do because we are actually ratifying a convention.

The new act will prohibit biological weapons and agents that do not have a peaceful purpose and will provide a more complete legal basis to regulate dual use biological agents in Canada. The new act will help to prevent the development, production, stockpiling, acquisition, transfer or use of biological weapons by states, individuals or other entities. It will supplement and reinforce Canada's existing legislation to prevent the development or transfer of biological weapons. In addition, the new amendments will set the terms and conditions of inspectors' activities in Canada, particularly in relation to their search and seizure activities.

It will be seen that Bill C-55 encompasses many things, but we must remember that it is part of our government's anti-terrorism plan. The word plan means more than one piece of legislation. It does not mean things in isolation or in silence. It is part of a comprehensive way that we are dealing with combating terrorism while at the same time protecting the rights and privacy of Canadians.

I would like to talk about two specific acts which fall within the responsibility of the Minister of Natural Resources, the National Energy Board Act and the Explosives Act. Earlier this morning I heard our colleagues in the Alliance Party commend the government for its amendments to the Explosives Act.

It might be trite to remind people that the terrorist attacks of September 11 not only changed the world but placed public security at the top of Canada's priority list. Since then the government has acted quickly and effectively on many fronts to address the serious threats resulting from these horrible events. It is also important to remember that we have acted cautiously. The Prime Minister is to be commended for how he dealt with the situation immediately after September 11.

Natural Resources Canada responded by working immediately with the Canadian energy industry to implement very appropriate security measures. Regulatory agencies, including the National Energy Board and the department's explosives administration, worked immediately to safeguard Canadian interests and ensure the security of Canada's energy systems and infrastructure.

With the proposed changes outlined in Bill C-55, Natural Resources Canada is taking further measures to enhance the safety and security of Canadians. Just as an aside, what motivates the government to pass this legislation and to have an anti-terrorism plan is to enhance the safety and security of Canadians, our citizens, whom we as parliamentarians have a duty to protect.

Natural Resources Canada administers the federal Explosives Act and the regulations. The act regulates the importation, manufacture, storage and sale of commercial explosives along with aspects of their transportation. The department's primary mandate is to ensure the health and safety of workers in the industry and of the Canadian public first and foremost.

As I mentioned earlier, in the December 2001 budget the government made a substantive investment of $7.7 billion to ensure the safety and security of Canadians. This budget funding will underwrite the legislative amendments that are proposed in Bill C-55.

The proposed amendments to the Explosives Act are contained in part 6 of Bill C-55. They will enable us to enhance the security of our domestic explosives industry and, I cannot say this often enough, ensure the safety of Canadians. They will strengthen the federal government's role in regulating the acquisition, possession and exportation of explosives. As well they will implement tougher security measures related to the manufacture, storage and transportation of explosives. For example, in transit and export controls combined with the import controls that currently exist under the Explosives Act will greatly improve the security of explosives shipments during transport.

The amendments will also help to bring Canada in line with the Organization of American States Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials which we signed in 1997. The act will now define what illicit trafficking is so that it captures the type of activity that can lead to the acquisition of explosives by criminals or terrorists.

New sections will address security measures, record keeping and the exchange of information for the purposes of tracing, identifying and preventing the illicit manufacture or the illicit trafficking of explosives. What we have to remember is that we are targeting illicit activities, we are targeting terrorist activities. We are not targeting honest, hardworking, everyday Canadians.

Enhanced controls over the acquisition and possession of explosives and their precursors would deter terrorists from using Canada as a place to prepare and launch terrorist attacks. The new possession controls would identify and deter individuals who posed a risk from having access to explosives.

A further deterrent to unlawful explosive activities would be the bill's changes to the penalty structure to bring penalties into line with those already in force under Canadian law for other serious crimes. The important thing is that explosive precursors such as ammonium nitrate would need tighter controls. As members will recall, ammonium nitrate was a key ingredient in the tragic Oklahoma City bombing. Bill C-55 would regulate such chemicals under the Explosives Act. The bill's intent is to prevent acquisition for unlawful purposes while ensuring ready access for legitimate agricultural use. It is about balance.

The proposed amendments to the Explosives Act would put Canada on the leading edge of explosives control. We would be seen around the world as taking a leadership role in protecting and securing our explosives supply. Moreover, Canada would be well placed to actively participate and lead in discussions about potential international control measures.

The proposed legislative changes illustrate the government's commitment to public security and the fight against terrorism. They illustrate its commitment to be a leader on the international scene in the fight against terrorism.

I will turn my attention to part 12 of Bill C-55 which proposes amendments to the National Energy Board Act. Currently the National Energy Board has a mandate to regulate the safety of interprovincial and international pipelines and international power lines. In working with industry the National Energy Board has institutionalized rigorous standards in maintenance practices to ensure the integrity and safety of the national pipeline system.

The proposed amendments to the National Energy Board Act would provide the board with clear statutory authority with respect to the security of installations. First, the board would be given the authority to order a pipeline company or certificate holder for an international power line to take measures for the security of the pipeline or power line. Second, it could make regulations respecting security measures. Third, it could keep security information confidential both in board hearings and in orders. Fourth, it would advise the Minister of Natural Resources on issues related to the security of pipelines and international power lines. Fifth, it could waive the publication requirements for applications to export electricity or construct international power lines if there was a critical shortage of electricity caused by a terrorist activity.

The board's inspectors would be given additional authority to make orders with respect to security matters. The ability of the National Energy 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 National Energy Board to take measures to protect information in its proceedings or in any order.

There are two tests for exercising this authority. First, the board must be satisfied there is a real and substantial risk that disclosure of information would impair the security of pipelines or international power lines or the methods used to protect them. Second, the board must be satisfied that the need to protect the information outweighs the public interest of having it disclosed. Again we are talking about balance.

The regulated companies have been co-operative in ensuring strengthened security arrangements are in place. They continue to operate at a heightened level of awareness to potential threats. The National Energy Board will continue to work co-operatively with industry in ensuring appropriate levels of security are maintained into the future. 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.

Bill C-55 would amend 20 acts. I have been able to touch on at least two of them that the opposition and Canadians in general will have a hard time arguing with. The changes would be for the security and safety of Canadians. They would strike a balance. Bill C-55's amendments to the National Energy Board Act and the Explosives Act would contribute to the safety and well-being of Canadians. They would provide us with better tools to address and protect ourselves from terrorism.

Last year at this time terrorism was something we watched on television and in the movies. After September 11 the world changed. Canadians must respond to the changed world. We as parliamentarians must do everything we can to protect Canadians while ensuring the values which are so important and dear to us remain.

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11:45 a.m.


Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech made by the hon. member opposite and I have two questions for her.

But first I want to point out to her that it is true that the events of September 11 not only changed the world, but also many people's way of living, including here in Canada and in Quebec.

I remember that, a few days after the attack, everyone here said that we had to make absolutely sure that our freedoms and anything related to the charter of rights and freedoms would not be violated. In this regard, the hon. member insisted on the importance of marriage and a fair balance between the protection of citizens and their freedoms.

We are very concerned, just like the privacy commissioner, George Radwanski. Incidentally, he had reviewed former Bill C-42 and was categorically opposed to it. Today, we realize that he is also opposed to Bill C-55.

So, there is a problem in terms of that balance. There is a violation of people's privacy and we feel that the bill goes too far. So my first question to the hon. member is: what does she have to say about the comments made by the privacy commissioner, Mr. Radwanski, who said that the bill goes too far?

Also—and this is the object of my second question—the hon. member spoke very quaveringly about the Prime Minister. This week, we were stunned to see that, depending on his mood when he gets up in the morning, the Prime Minister may be a dictator one day and a great democrat the next day.

I wonder if the hon. member had the opportunity to meet the Prime Minister this morning. Perhaps she could tell us if, today, he will behave like a dictator or a great democrat.

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11:45 a.m.


Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Madam Speaker, as I am sure my hon. colleague will recall, we talked about the charter of rights and freedoms which is as important to Quebecers as it is to my constituents in Parkdale--High Park and all Canadians. I am sure he will recall that we proudly celebrated the charter's 20th anniversary. Perhaps he will also recall that the charter of rights was by brought in by one of the greatest Canadians who was also a Quebecer, the late Right hon. Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

The hon. member will no doubt recall that the minister of justice during that period is now the Right hon. Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister of Canada. As an architect of the charter the Prime Minister is a true democrat who knows how important the charter is. There is no doubt that our Prime Minister, the leader of the country, is the greatest believer in democracy and the greatest politician in the world. He knows how important rights, freedoms and values are. He knows what it means to be Canadian.

It is important to look at the security measures taken in the budget of 2001. We set aside money to ensure we were able to enforce and enact legislation. We set aside money to ensure intolerance was not acceptable in Canada. We need to find new programs and new ways to enhance tolerance and prevent hatred and racism.

Many people have said there is no need to have a secretary of state for multiculturalism. They say it is passé. There is no greater time than now for a strong secretary of state for multiculturalism to look at how to combat racism and hatred on a day to day basis. Last month we had an anti-racism day. It is important to remember what it means to be Canadian and how we in Canada have grown by welcoming immigrants. I am a first generation Canadian. My family immigrated to Canada in the early 1950s. We are part of the Canadian mosaic.

That is something the budget addressed as well. It is all part of democracy. It is about respecting people's rights and celebrating our diversity. This year the theme of Commonwealth Day, not just in Canada but throughout the commonwealth, was celebrating diversity. It is a wonderful thing that Canada, one of the leading Commonwealth countries, celebrates diversity. Let us look at our own country. We celebrate diversity every day. We will continue to celebrate it and ensure that hatred and racism have no place in Canada.

I will address my hon. colleague's questions about the privacy commissioner. I too woke up this morning and was interested to read the privacy commissioner's comments. It is the privacy commissioner's role to question and show concerns. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport whose committee will be examining Bill C-55 will no doubt call the privacy commissioner to the committee to give him an opportunity to explain his position. It will also give the committee the opportunity to cross examine the privacy commissioner.

It is all about healthy debate. That is important. We must remember that Bill C-55 was brought forward as a replacement to Bill C-42. Bill C-42 was withdrawn on April 24 because the government consulted with Canadians, parliamentarians and caucus and decided it was time for a better bill. We did so because we must always ensure balance. We must ensure the charter of rights and freedoms which makes us so uniquely Canadian is there to protect us. Bill C-55 must and will conform to the charter.

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11:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Madam Speaker, I will ask my hon. colleague a few questions that came up during the speech of her colleague the hon. member for Scarborough--Rouge River. He indicated that he thought the bill might best be studied in the justice committee. Does the hon. member agree?

The hon. member for Scarborough--Rouge River talked about interim orders. He said that under Bill C-55 they would be tabled in parliament within 15 days and published in the Canada Gazette in 23 days. He seemed to indicate it should happen much sooner, perhaps within a few days of an interim order being brought into place. I agree. Does the hon. member agree?

Does the hon. member believe Bill C-55 is necessary to achieve public security? Some have argued in the House that we already have the Emergencies Act which encompasses a lot of the measures Bill C-55 proposes to put into place.

Under Bill C-55 interim orders could be implemented at the discretion of officials as granted to them by a minister of the crown. The interim orders would expire in approximately 100 days. The hon. member's colleague from Scarborough--Rouge River had problems with that. He did not think it appropriate that interim orders be renewed once they have expired. Does the hon. member agree?

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11:50 a.m.


Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Madam Speaker, I am delighted to answer all the questions although I do not know if time will allow.

My hon. colleague on the other side has raised an important issue: Why would we favour interim orders over the Emergencies Act? We must be absolutely clear. There is a huge difference between interim orders and the Emergencies Act.

The Emergencies Act is a tool of last resort. I am surprised the hon. member opposite asked why we do not use it. It is not a question my hon. colleagues from the Bloc would ask. The Emergencies Act is all encompassing. It is powerful but it is a tool of last resort. It can be used when the provinces do not have the capacity to react in time.

It is important for our hon. colleagues in the House to know the differences between interim orders and the Emergencies Act. I will therefore quickly summarize them. First, the Emergencies Act has sweeping legislation and has never been invoked.

Second, emergency interim orders provide modest targeted powers within existing legislation.

Madam Speaker, you are waving me off. Perhaps I will have an opportunity to speak to the bill again. I would be happy to speak to my hon. colleagues about the tremendous differences between interim orders and the Emergencies Act.

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11:55 a.m.


Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, I will begin my speech with the preamble I used earlier for the benefit of the member who preceded me.

Since September 11, many things have changed in the world, and not just in the United States. What we are seeing in the United States—this is more in keeping with their kind of society—is an obvious tightening of controls and of law enforcement.

Here, however, in the days following the attacks, people felt that what was important was not to let the terrorists win. This they defined as anyone being able to place limitations on our rights, our freedoms and our system of values at some point.

The Bloc Quebecois maintains that the bill as now drafted crosses this line. The context is no longer the same as it was before September 11. People will undoubtedly say “Does this mean that the Bloc Quebecois or you, as the member for Saint-Jean, do not want more controls?” We want more controls, but we do not want to see them extended as they are in this bill.

We are, however, happy with the amendments and said so in the press conference. Now, the legislation is limited to Canadian Forces and Department of National Defence property. The previous bill covered all crown property and materiel. It was even broader. However, this is also basically a farce, because—

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11:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I apologize to the hon. member who is speaking but I do not see how the House can function in a democracy without a quorum.

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11:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

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The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

We now have quorum and are resuming debate.

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Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, before this interruption, I was speaking of the importance of a balance between control and respecting rights and freedoms. In our opinion, there is much still to be done.

I was also saying that we in the Bloc Quebecois have managed to get the government to take a step forward by restricting the application of property and materiel to the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence now, rather than the crown.

I would also like to make clear why Quebecers defend their rights and freedoms so fiercely. I would perhaps invite my colleagues in the House one day, if they have the time—because they would find it a most interesting read—to read journalist Normand Lester's book on Canada's dismal record, from cover to cover.

My colleagues would discover that, on various occasions in history, the Canadian Forces imposed martial law on Quebec and, on certain occasions, even killed Quebecers, people who were taking part in demonstrations or other highly democratic activities.

Let us call to mind the most recent events, which are still fresh in our memories. In October 1970, invoking the War Measures Act led to the Canadian Forces being stationed at all federal buildings, all embassies, all consulates. This was extremely problematic for Quebec. There were many arrests without warrants and people were held in custody for longer than the law allowed. Hon. members will understand we have certain reservations about section 260.1 of this bill, which creates controlled access military zones, major reservations in fact, all the more so because this zone is determined by a single person.

Unlike the situation at the time of the events of 1970 I have referred to—when it was a Cabinet decision—now a single man makes the decision, the Minister of National Defence. People may respond, “It is not just him, it will be on recommendation”. But we know who makes the recommendations: the Chief of Staff of the Canadian Forces. And we know whom that Chief of Staff reports to.

Canada's armed forces are subject to civilian authority. They are subject to the authority of the Minister of National Defence. Therefore, it is quite clear that the person who has the final say, who has the legal status to say, “Yes, we are designating a controlled access military zone”, is the Minister of National Defence. One single person.

I remind the House that in the dissenting report by the Bloc Quebecois, we noted that the man who is currently responsible for this portfolio misled the House in the Afghan prisoners affair. This means that he demonstrated a great lack of judgment. Can we trust this man, who could say from one day to the next, “I designate a controlled access military zone in such and such a part of the country, or in such and such a part of Quebec”? The answer is quite simple, “No, we cannot trust this man”.

This is not simply about the current minister. The fundamental issue is the fact that one person alone can decide. This person may make an error in judgment, and it will be the citizens who are penalized. This is the main problem. Errors in judgment do occur.

We believe that it is very important—and the governing party objects to this—to get the consent of the province in which this were to occur.

There is no denying the federal government's authority on military bases or military facilities that belong to it. However, this bill will allow one single person, the Minister of National Defence, to extend this jurisdiction into civilian territory, a municipality, which comes under provincial jurisdiction, naturally. In Quebec, municipalities are a creation of the Government of Quebec.

Therefore, as a protection, we need provisions whereby the Government of Quebec will be not only consulted, but will give its consent.

Obviously, if something important happens, the Government of Quebec is responsible enough to say, “This makes sense; we agree”. We also think it may disagree. But it seems that we need this essential protection in the bill before us today.

Of course, I am only referring to this clause because, as national defence critic, this is the one that I am concerned about. The expression military security zone has been changed to controlled access military zone. As far as we are concerned, this is a minor cosmetic change. But if we take a closer look at the legislation, we have a lot of concerns, because the expression reasonably necessary is used in relation to the four most important concepts, namely the creation of the zone, its dimensions, its effective period and the renewal of its designation to maintain it for another period. We are told that the minister alone will have the power to do this and that he will only do it if it is reasonably necessary.

These terms are usually avoided in any contract or agreement because, depending on the interpretation of the expression reasonably necessary, anything may be allowed and no one could object on the ground that it is not a reasonable demand, that it is not reasonably necessary. The minister will say, “As far as we are concerned, it is reasonably necessary. We are the ones who have the authority to decide, and we think it is reasonably necessary”. If this is challenged in court, I believe that time will pass and the zone will probably disappear before a ruling is handed down.

The minister decides everything. We are quite concerned about certain provisions, including those on designation, renewal, variance and cancellation. All this will be done without any reference to the statutory instruments under the Statutory Instruments Act. This means that parliament will be completely left out of the process. The minister is the only who can decide and no one will be allowed to ask for an emergency meeting of the Standing Committee on National Defence. The minister will say that he is not subject to the Statutory Instruments Act.

Another subsection in section 260.1 that we have a lot of trouble with is the one which says that “As soon as possible after a designation is made, renewed, varied or cancelled, the Minister shall, by any means that the Minister considers appropriate in the circumstances, give notice of the designation, renewal, variance or cancellation to persons who in the Minister's opinion may be affected by it, unless the Minister is of the opinion that it is inadvisable to do so for reasons of international relations or national defence or security”.

National security is always top secret. He could decide to renew based on national security. Worst of all is the subsequent clause, which provides that: “The Minister shall publish in the Canada Gazette a notice of a designation, renewal, variance or cancellation within 23 days after the designation, renewal, variance or cancellation is made, unless the Minister is of the opinion that it is inadvisable to do so for reasons of international relations or national defence or security”.

What this means is that the minister could, within 23 days, say that there was a military zone, but it could also mean the contrary. People could be in a controlled access military zone for more than 23 days and not know it. That is even worse. Anyone could unwittingly find himself in a controlled access military zone without authorization. The same goes for livestock, vehicles, boats or aircraft. People could be forcibly removed by the military. This is completely unacceptable in a free and democratic society.

There is a problem for farmers whose livestock might be in a designated zone. They could be found in contravention of this section, charged and forcibly removed, without having been told that they were in a controlled access military zone. Naturally, we find this hard to accept.

The worst part is the mention, in subsection 14, that there may be “No action for loss—”. Not only can a person find themselves in a controlled access military zone without realizing it, but what is worse, if they suffer damages, they will not be compensated and no court can examine the issue. As far as we are concerned, this goes much too far.

To conclude, I would like to come back to what my colleague from the government said regarding Mr. Radwanski, the privacy commissioner. He was opposed to the former bill and he opposes the current bill, saying that it goes much too far. It is said to violate the rights and freedoms of Canadians and Quebecers.

One has to wonder if section 260.1 contained in this bill, and others, are constitutional. Does it really respect the charter of rights and freedoms? In a free and democratic society, can the government do these kinds of things?

It is a question of interpretation. Our interpretation is that once passed, it will not be long before this legislation will be brought before the courts to determine if it is constitutional. I believe there is a major problem.

One also has to wonder about all those in the government who are defending this, including the Prime Minister, who wakes up either as a dictator one day, or a champion of democracy the next. I think that by introducing this legislation, he has most certainly gotten up on the dictator side of the bed. As far as I am concerned, granting full authority to one single person to designate the period, the dimension and the renewal of this zone, without anyone else having any say in the matter, that falls squarely into the dictatorship category.

For all of these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois cannot support this bill. We will of course make the necessary effort and take part in consideration in committee. We are going to propose amendments. I must, however, forewarn my colleagues on the government benches that, barring changes in this bill, they must not expect the Bloc Quebecois to support it all the way through and vote in favour of it, for the historical reasons I mentioned, and out of respect for rights and freedoms.

I am therefore making it clear that, if the bill remains as it is, the Bloc Quebecois is, unfortunately, going to object to it and will deplore this government's loss of any proper relationship with the people.

Life here in Ottawa is in a kind of glass bubble. Here is where the decision is made on the bill. Then the minister will, from his glass bubble, announce “Well now, there are some sea cadets in the port of Quebec, so we will extend the zone to all of the old part of Quebec City, because an American ship is coming in”.

The minister keeps coming back to the same example, the blowing up in Yemen of the USS Cole . I would like to remind the minister of two things: one, this is not Yemen, and two, it is too much responsibility for one man to decide that all of Old Québec—and this would be possible because he is the one to decide on the dimensions of the zone—could be designated a controlled access military zone for several weeks. He could even not let the people there know. They might suddenly be told “You can't go home tonight, because it is a newly designated zone and we are entitled to keep you out of it”. That is going way too far.

The Liberal Party needs to get out of its bubble. It needs to get in touch with the people. I believe that objections will not come just from the people of Quebec City and Quebec, but from all over Canada. It is not too late for the government to think it over, like it did the first time, and say “You are right. There are too many grey areas, too many things that will have a negative effect on the rights and freedoms of citizens. We will back off and go back to the drawing board”. It is not too late.

We are, however, giving them fair warning: if they decide to stick to the party line, keep up this hard line approach and fully implement this bill, the Bloc Quebecois is going to object to that approach.