Madam Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to speak to Bill C-55.
I will summarize the process by which Bill C-55 ended up the House today. Everyone of course recalls the tragic events of September 11 in New York City. As a result, all countries panicked somewhat and decided to tighten up security and to enact legislation, which was more or less logical, because of this unacknowledged and officially undeclared war against terrorism.
For instance, I remember Bill S-23, an act to amend the Customs Act and to make related amendments to other acts, which in fact modified all procedures, particularly those involving the border with the U.S. and Canadian air or shipping entry points.
Even today, I will not criticize Bill S-23. It was, over all, a bill that made sense. It is still my position, however, that we moved far too quickly in passing it. We could have passed it with a provision to revisit it again in the House, maybe six months, a year, or eighteen months later, to see whether our decision had been the right one.
A number of members, if not the majority, have perhaps exaggerated or over-reacted to the events of September 11. The outcome of this was some of the bills that got introduced, such as Bill C-55.
Naturally, the ancestor of Bill C-55, though not much older than it, was Bill C-42. Hon. members will recall, in connection with that bill, that the Bloc Quebecois was strongly opposed to it, because we found it far too exaggerated. The whole opposition was against Bill C-42, as were some members of the party in power. The press was against it. Canadian rights and freedoms advocates were against it.
What has this government done? It has simply reproduced or cloned—cloning is very much a current issue—another bill, namely Bill C-55, by slightly altering the embryos to finally produce a new baby called Bill C-55.
Bill C-55 deals primarily with controlled access military zones. If we are not mistaken, a controlled access military zone means that the government and—this is what is especially hard to take—some ministers have discretionary power. Even some public officials could say tomorrow morning “We are taking control of this part of a city. It thus becomes a controlled access military zone”.
Can we really let ministers have the power to designate a zone and have it controlled by military personnel, when we know that many of them are not even able to control their own staff or themselves? I am referring here to the infamous sponsorship contracts. We have to wonder about this.
Considering how some of these ministers are currently behaving and spending taxpayers' money, will they be able to designate and control a controlled access military zone in an intelligent way?
I am personally affected by Bill C-55, because of my political convictions. The government opposite keeps telling us “Ours is a flexible federation. Ours is a federation that is in contact and in touch with the provinces”. Not true. Under Bill C-55, the federal government will never consult the provinces to find out what they think of a controlled access military zone. The decision will be made unilaterally and the provinces will have to deal with the problems.
Another part of the bill that concerns me has to do with the dimensions of the controlled access military zone. The bill provides that the dimensions of the zone cannot be greater than is reasonably necessary. What does reasonably necessary mean? It does not necessarily mean the same thing for me or for the hon. member for Charlevoix. My idea of what is reasonably necessary is completely different from that of each member in this House, including you, Madam Speaker. Yet, decisions on these dimensions are left up to the Minister of National Defence. He is a recruit. He has just been appointed to this position. His predecessor is gone; I do not know why, but I have an idea. The new minister will invoke what is reasonably necessary. Will he be reasonable or not? This is excessively dangerous.
Something else bothers me. Controlled access military zone may be created for reasons of international relations or national defence or security. The G-8 conference will be held in Kananaskis this summer. Will the Kananaskis region be designated as a controlled access military zone for reasons of international relations and to ensure the safety and security of participants? I do not want to be a scaremonger, but I would not be surprised if the passing of Bill C-55 lead to the designation of a huge area all around Kananaskis, which is a small secluded estate in a forest in the northern part of a province, as a controlled access military zone.
We should think twice. We are playing games with people's freedom. Is this bill not similar to the legislation known as the War Measures Act put forward in 1970 by then Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau?
As my colleague from Regina—Qu'Appelle indicated, to deal with a small group of 12 or 15 FLQ members, legislation was passed which violated the rights of thousands of Quebecers.
Unfortunately, I see that my time is up, even though I have a lot more to say.