Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-55. I think that the important thing is to approach it with the greatest respect possible.
Let us remember that a legislative committee was formed to study every aspect of the bill. Obviously, we are not necessarily claiming to have come up with the perfect bill. We are here to exchange views and discuss ideas. I think that it is particularly important to bring out certain points.
There is much talk about the bill violating various rights. I think that Canadians' most fundamental right is the right to live in peace. It is the government's responsibility to do everything it can, through Bill C-55 on public safety, to ensure that Canadians can lead a normal, peaceful life, with the government assuming its responsibilities.
On occasion, we have been known to exaggerate, as has the opposition. In our profession, moderation is not always our strongest suit. However, I am certainly going to try to bring out those features of the terminology which strike me as important and which have generated, I think, considerable confusion. It is not always easy to see things clearly.
The most important thing to understand is that our country, like most western countries, is facing an extremely vicious and ruthless adversary, namely international terrorism.
This bill affects almost every department. It will require us to amend approximately 20 statutes—no small number—and in particular the most important tool that our ministers, the government and the House of Commons will subsequently have occasion to use—interim orders.
Solely for the benefit of the House—and if other colleagues have anything to add which would help us better understand what Bill C-55 is all about, they are welcome to do so—I would like to make the following point about interim orders.
We are sometimes given the impression that all of Canada is going to be a controlled access military zone. In reality, this will not be the case. Controlled access military zones will mainly be connected with military equipment and troops, in a spirit of co-operation with all other countries.
The interim orders referred to in the bill merely allow ministers to speed up processes which already exist under Canadian law. They do not authorize them to do anything beyond what Canadian law permits. Interim orders allow us to speed up the process, which is a minister's privilege.
Interim orders, against which we have heard many members speak out, are necessary to allow a minister to immediately deal with a situation that requires an urgent response to protect Canada and Canadians as a result of a major threat to health, safety or the environment. Interim orders are simply designed to deal with circumstances that do not provide enough time to make regulations as legislation would normally require. Interim orders are aimed at providing a minister with the regulatory tools necessary to deal with a particular threat in a very targeted manner.
The accountability of parliament would not be diminished. Unlike regulations, all interim orders must be tabled in parliament within 15 sitting days. Interim orders are common sense emergency measures to accelerate our current process.
Interim orders are necessary to allow a minister to act immediately to deal with a major threat to health, safety or the environment. Interim orders can only be made in relation to powers that may already be exercised under an act of parliament for which the minister is responsible. This minister would not invent anything. The ministers must act in accordance with legislation passed by parliament. Interim orders are simply designed to deal with circumstances that do not provide enough time to make regulations, as legislation would normally require.
The confusion comes mostly from the distinction between emergency measures and interim orders. Interim orders and the Emergency Measures Act are used for different kinds of problems and in different areas of jurisdiction.
The Emergency Measures Act is a last resort and a far-reaching legislative measure. It is used in an emergency at the national level and only if it is determined that no other law in Canada can effectively resolve the issue and if the emergency is such that one province alone cannot deal with it or that it seriously threatens the capacity of the Government of Canada to protect the nation's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.
The Emergency Measures Act applies--quite clearly--to four categories of emergency situations: disasters, public order emergencies, international crises and a state of war. In the two first cases, it is up to the provinces to react. In the last two cases, the federal government would exercise a planning function centered on the mobilization of national resources, with the help of provincial and territorial governments as well as the private sector.
By contrast, the interim orders provided for in Bill C-55 are more modest measures designed to deal with situations in areas of federal jurisdiction where regulatory changes are necessary and urgent.
All in all, what is essential is first to read the bill carefully. When dealing with Bill C-55, a major piece of legislation for the security of our fellow citizens, it is very important to examine all the elements we feel are a source of problems, such as providing the list of passengers. How, if we provide a list of passengers to U.S. security services, can we not co-operate with the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service? This is utter nonsense.
All the information provided must be destroyed within a week, unless it had been proved that this information is extremely important for national security reasons.
As for the controlled access military zones, the Emergencies Act is already in place. It is strictly an interim order allowing the minister to act swiftly within the current legislative framework. We will not designate all of Canada as a controlled access military zone. It is strictly for the purpose of protecting our own military equipment and personnel.
All in all, I am sure that the legislative committee, made up of extremely capable members with whom I am anxious to work on Bill C-55, will be able to give careful consideration to Bill C-55, which replaces Bill C-42 and is much more flexible.
What is important, as I said, is to make the distinctions with regard to three or four key elements: the provision of information, the interim orders made under the Emergencies Act, and so on.
I am sure that all my colleagues will easily understand the validity of this legislation. I am sure also that by avoiding exaggeration we will be better able to continue with consideration of this bill, which is extremely important for the security of all our fellow citizens and also to strengthen our co-operation with all the countries fighting against international terrorism.