Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the time to speak to Bill C-55. I feel like calling my speech “Security vs. freedom”.
To begin, I would like to quote Irene Khan, the secretary general of Amnesty International. Members will recall that this is the organization that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977. Ms. Khan said that “the respect for human rights must encompass not only the universality, but also the indivisibility of all rights... There can be no trade-off between human rights and security, between justice and impunity”.
Having given some thought to Bill C-55 and fundamental freedoms, how can we not believe that the bill will go against these freedoms, when the ministers of transport, defence or health are able to intervene directly, without having to go through the House? Let us not forget that they have 45 days to table their orders here.
How can we leave it up to the new Minister of National Defence alone—and incidentally, I wish him good luck and my best wishes in his new position, I think it is fair to say that he will make a better minister than the former defence minister—to determine the reasonable dimensions of a controlled access military zone?
What are reasonable dimensions? Describe to me reasonable dimensions, Mr. Speaker. Your description will differ from mine, because your reason will never be the same as mine. We may come close on some issues. We may be close, but there will always be a nuance between your reason and my reason. I could never win by trying to argue that my reason is better than your reason, and vice versa.
Now this is will be up to one person. This person will be able to say “I am determining what the reasonable dimensions of this controlled access military zone will be”. I expect that if I step inside this zone, there are good chances that I will have my toes cut off.
So it is important for the House, the people sitting here in this chamber, to take part in determining controlled access military zones.
I would like to digress to let the House know how I feel. I do not want to condemn or moralize, but I find it very improper that our colleagues on the other side are remaining silent while we are debating a bill of this importance.
I feel our Alliance colleagues should participate a bit more in the discussion. Our friends from the NDP should get involved a bit more. Should we not all get involved in this debate?
This bill is of major importance and will have a direct impact on the freedom of people. But our colleagues are saying nothing.
In passing, I would like to commend the painstaking and very professional work of my colleague, the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. He made several presentations in caucus on this issue and did some wonderful work.
Another aspect of this bill bothers me, and it is the fact that while the government is bragging about wanting to co-operate with the provinces, talking with them and taking their opinion into account, this bill totally ignores the provinces. This bill says to the provinces “you are nothing, you are insignificant and we will not consult you. Even if we create a controlled access military zone in Quebec, Alberta or Ontario, the elected representatives of those provinces have nothing to say about it”. This is outrageous. They should at least talk with the provinces in question.
What assurances do we have that, in June, when the next G-8 summit will take place in Kananaskis, the whole area will not be declared a controlled access military zone? The bill would allow for the creation of ia controlled access military zone for reasons of international relations or international security, or for other reasons.
This is cause for concern. We are in 2002. As you see, I disagree with what the government is doing, but we must look at what other governments are doing.
If it were not for September 11 and what happened in the United States, some legislation would not have been amended. Would they have put military personnel at the border between Canada and the United States? The biggest problem I have with this bill is that it is hypocritical. The government wants to grab more power. But in every country there are laws to ensure the safety of citizens.
For example, here we have an act we owe to Mr. Trudeau, the War Measures Act. It is on the books and it had an impact on individual freedoms. I remember quite well, and I hope I am not mistaken, but the member for Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies was affected by this act. He was imprisoned for 30 days without knowing why.
Personally, at noon on a Friday, while I was in a tavern in Ville-Saint-Laurent with twelve of my colleagues, I was arrested and taken to Collège Saint-Laurent where I spent the weekend. Why? I do not know. Maybe they did not like the colour of my hair or the colour of my eyes, maybe they did not like my height, I do not know. During the whole weekend, I slept on a cot and I really do not know why I was arrested.
It might have been because we were speaking French or discussing the events triggered by the FLQ at the time. I really have to idea.
But this bill is worse. I believe we should adopt the motion put forward by the Progressive Conservative Party and toss out Bill C-55 and start all over again.