House of Commons Hansard #135 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-17.


Public Safety, 2002
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.


Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, the member for Lotbinière—L'Érable, for this question. He is right, I did not mention that point during my speech.

The Bloc Quebecois is still concerned, for example, about the provisions on interim orders. The bill provides that different ministers will have the authority to make interim orders without any prior check as to whether they are consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the enabling legislation. Members of the Bloc Quebecois tried to reinstate that prerequisite, but all our amendments were defeated.

I also want to draw the attention of the House to the fact that those interim orders require the amendment of ten other statutes for the minister to be entitled to make interim orders. We should also mention that members of the House have no say in the process of enacting regulations before they take effect. This means that, in most cases, whenever an interim order is made, the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations will review the regulations only once they are in force, often several months later. That is not normal. An interim order should be made for a limited period of time. That way, since it will eventually come to an end, the committee review could very well happen too late.

We also have concerns about another item, the exchange of information. Under the provisions of the bill, data held by the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service would not be destroyed soon enough. This is what we are talking about.

This means, for example, that, if I travel a lot, they would have all sorts of information about me without my knowing when it would be destroyed and what would become of it. Therefore, the freedom of individuals is being violated.

Public Safety, 2002
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.


Roger Gaudet Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, this will be a rehash, but I think that the members opposite do not totally understand Bill C-17. So let us put this in context. I will first talk about the war on terrorism in general.

On September 11—

Public Safety, 2002
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

An hon. member

They like rehash.

Public Safety, 2002
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.


Roger Gaudet Berthier—Montcalm, QC

They like it because it is always good.

Public Safety, 2002
Government Orders

5 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

If members want to have a personal conversation, they will do it elsewhere. In the House of Commons, members must make their interventions through the Chair.

The hon. member for Berthier—Montcalm has the floor.

Public Safety, 2002
Government Orders

October 7th, 2003 / 5 p.m.


Roger Gaudet Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I apologize. On September 11, 2001, the United States was the target of deadly attacks. The world reacted quickly with an unprecedented mobilization to fight terrorism.

The Bloc Quebecois was part of that mobilization. That day, on September 11, we spoke out strongly against the attacks and, in the following hours, we offered our cooperation to the federal government with regard to the emergency measures needed to deal with the situation. Later, in a speech made on September 17, 2001, our leader, the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, set out the principles that would guide our actions following these tragic events.

The response must reflect and respect our democratic values. In other words, we established the rules that would govern our actions from then on. In fighting terrorism, we must strike the right balance between freedom and security.

Unfortunately, as we will see later on, the federal government has failed. The measures it has proposed do not respect this balance. This is particularly true of bills such as Bill C-17, which we are debating today.

If I may I will proceed in chronological order. The first bill put forward in response to the terrorist attacks was Bill C-36. Although we were at first in favour of the idea of anti-terrorist legislation, we believe that the bill proposed by the federal government did not strike the right balance.

Indeed, the Bloc Quebecois felt that Bill C-36 did not effectively balance freedom with security issues. Moreover, the amendments put forward in committee by the minister turned out to be insufficient to restore this balance.

Terrorists attacks and the terrorist threat have reached an exceptional level and created an exceptional context. Bill C-36 was an exceptional bill in answer to an exceptional situation. Should the terrorist threat subside, several of the measures proposed in Bill C-36 would become unacceptable.

This is why the Bloc Quebecois asked the government to include a sunset clause in the bill so that it is no longer in force after three years, unless the House decides otherwise.

The Bloc Quebecois asked that the Standing Committee on Justice and Human rights automatically review the act every year following a report by an independent commissioner. Those Bloc amendments were turned down.

These are the other elements of Bill C-36 which are problematic for the Bloc Quebecois. The definition of terrorist acts is too broad and could lead to abuse against groups or individuals who have no connection with terrorism, as we saw last week.

The Attorney General and the Minister of Justice could withhold information by not applying the Access to Information Act, and there would be no safeguard. This was the conclusion of the Privacy Commissioner and a judicial review.

The act will only be reviewed in three years, which is much too long. The Minister of National Defence will be able to intercept international communications simply by making a written request to the Centre, without the authorization of a judge.

This bill includes all the provisions found in the bill on the registration of charities, which the Bloc condemned.

The government can list entities as terrorists without the authorization of a judge.

We tried to propose amendments to fix the problem, by adding, among other things, a sunset clause that would have limited the application of the act in time.

However, our amendments were rejected, and we felt that the amendments made by the minister fell far short. Consequently, we voted against the bill.

Later, allegedly as a complement to security enhancing measures, the government introduced Bill C-42, the public safety bill. From the day it was introduced, the Bloc Quebecois expressed its opposition to the bill, judging that some of what was proposed went too far and actually had little to do with terrorism. For instance, the new power conferred upon ministers to make interim orders leaves too much room to arbitrariness. As for the military security zones, they were very poorly defined, and their designation left the door wide open to all sorts of abuse.

This bill was replaced with Bill C-55, and later by Bill C-17. Unfortunately, these two bills do not strike the balance required either.

If we look at the Bloc's position on military interventions as part of the fight against terrorism, we did support the military strikes in Afghanistan. We had asked that these take place under the umbrella of the United Nations, however. As far as the deployment of Canadian troops was concerned, we agreed, provided that it be subject to a debate and a vote in the House of Commons. Finally, we were very critical of the behaviour of the American administration, particularly with respect to the use of cluster bombs and the establishment of military tribunals for terrorists.

After these two bills on terrorism from the federal government, we can only conclude that the government has failed in the fight against terrorism. The measures presented do not strike the right balance between freedom and security. And even worse, the government is trying to use the fight against terrorism to justify exceptional measures, although some of these measures are neither necessary nor justifiable. We need only think of the use that could be made of the information obtained under Bill C-17 with respect to persons named in a warrant. We are opposed to Bill C-17, first, because we believe that basically it is bad law. It is also a sign of the failure of the federal government's strategy in the fight against terrorism.

The bill now before us is a new version of Bill C-55 on public safety, which was itself a new version of Bill C-42.

In speaking to Bill C-55, we concentrated on three major points: the controlled access military zones, or military security zones as they were known in Bill C-42; interim orders; and the exchange of information on airline passengers.

Of these three, the controlled access military zones mentioned in Bills C-42 and C-55 have been completely removed from this bill. This is quite a victory for us.

The bill still contains provisions on interim orders, although the time allowed for tabling an order in Parliament and getting cabinet approval has been shortened considerably. Nonetheless, our primary issue, the lack of a prior check for compliance, remains.

With respect to the exchange of information, the proposed amendments to the previous bills are clearly inadequate. The coverage of the proposed provisions is much broader than the war on terrorism, and the provisions do not strike a fair balance between security and privacy. We voted against this bill at second reading.

In committee, we tried to alleviate the various problems related to this legislation by moving numerous amendments during clause by clause consideration. Nearly all our amendments were defeated. I want to share with the House the general tenor of the amendments we tried to make.

With regard to interim orders, Bill C-17 authorizes various ministers to issue such orders without first ensuring that they comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the enabling legislation. We tried to re-establish this preliminary check, but our amendments were defeated.

In the latest version of the bill, interim orders must be tabled in Parliament within 15 days after they are issued. We find this to be excessive and asked that the time period be shortened to five days.

With regard to the powers of the RCMP and CSIS, this legislation includes provisions that confer sweeping powers on the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service with regard to passenger information compiled by the airlines.

In vain, we tried to amend the bill to limit the powers to retain or use information collected as a result. We wanted to prohibit this information from being used to execute a warrant of arrest. We must not forget the War Measures Act in Quebec in 1970.

We also wanted to ensure that the information collected would be destroyed within 24 hours after the plane carrying the passengers on whom information had been collected had landed, except if such information was reasonably necessary for transportation security purposes or an investigation related to national security. In this legislation, the time period within which such information must be destroyed remains seven days. In our view, this is too long.

Finally, we also tried to institute an mechanism to ensure that the Privacy Commissioner would receive a copy of the reasons justifying why some information had been retained; this was also voted down.

We also proposed other amendments. We tried to effect several changes, namely to the parts concerning the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention Implementation Act, and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act, either by suggesting amendments or voting against certain clauses. The purpose of these changes was to respond to the concerns of various groups that appeared before the committee. These changes were not made either. That is why the Bloc Quebecois voted against this bill.

Let us now talk about military security zones. The notion of military security zones has completely disappeared from the bill.

The Bloc Quebecois was unanimous on this. Dropping military security zones from the public safety bill is an important victory for us.

As for the declaration of special zones, this measure strikes us as far more reasonable than before. We will, however, be keeping a close eye on developments and will remain extremely vigilant in order to speak out against any potential abuse. We must also ensure that no zone will be created in Quebec without the consent of the Government of Quebec.

The bill still contains provisions allowing various ministers to make interim orders. There are two relatively minor changes that were made; orders must be tabled in Parliament within 15 days and the duration of the order has decreased from 45 to 14 days, that is, the length of time it is in effect without cabinet approval.

There was no prior check on charter compliance or compliance with the enabling legislation carried out by the Clerk of the Privy Council. I have a diagram with me that illustrates how the provisions on interim orders have evolved from Bill C-42 to Bill C-55 and Bill C-17.

Starting with the compliance check, the answer was no for all three bills.

As for the interim orders, under Bill C-42, these expired after 90 days except with approval of the governor in council; with Bill C-55, the time limit was 45 days except with approval of the governor in council. Now, with Bill C-17, it is 14 days, except with approval of the governor in council.

As far as tabling the orders in Parliament is concerned, there was no provision for this in Bill C-42, while in Bill C-55 the tabling had to take place within 15 sitting days after it was issued. In Bill C-17, it is 15 days.

Obviously, we can see that there have been marked improvements between the first version, Bill C-42 and the present one, Bill C-17. The main problem is still with us, however: the lack of a prior check for compliance with the charter and enabling legislation.

As for information sharing, Bill C-17 allows two stakeholders to obtain passenger information directly from airlines or operators of reservation systems: the Commissioner of the RCMP and the Director of CSIS.

This information can be requested if there is an imminent threat to airline security. Only CSIS can also request information for investigations into threats against the security of Canada. Bill C-55 would also have allowed this, in order to “identify a person for whom a warrant ofarrest has been issued”.

As a rule, information provided to the RCMP or CSIS must be destroyedwithin seven days after it is provided orobtained, unless it is reasonably required forthe purposes of transportation security or theinvestigation of threats to the security ofCanada.

On May 6 of this year, the Privacy Commissioner released a letter outlining his concerns with Bill C-55 in connection with the gathering of information by the RCMP or CSIS. His reservations were related to the provisions allowing the RCMP to use personal information on all airline passengers in order to locate persons for whom there was an outstanding warrant for any offence punishable by a sentence of imprisonment for five years or more.

He also expressed reservations about the provisions allowing the RCMP and CSIS to retain the personal information of passengers for such purposes as searching for suspicious travel patterns.

With respect to the first point, several provisions were problematic at the time. Among them, there was the definition of the term warrant and those provisions allowing the RCMP to collect and communicate information about individuals subject to an outstanding warrant. The commissioner suggested 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. Giving carte blanche is not always a good thing. 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.

The government has tightened up the definition of warrant. In the previous version, it could have been 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 stating exactly what crimes are involved.

As to the second point, 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.

But, neither of these changes was made. As a result, on November 1, 2002, the Privacy Commissioner issued a press release regarding Bill C-17, in which he described the changes as being minor. He said:

—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 added:

—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.

In Canada, it is well established that we are not required to identify ourselves to police unless we are being arrested or we are carrying out a licensed activity such as driving. The right to anonymity with regard to the state is a crucial privacy right. Since we are required to identify ourselves to airlines as a condition of air travel and since section 4.82 would give the RCMP unrestricted access to the passenger information obtained by airlines, this would set the extraordinarily privacy-invasive precedent of effectively requiring compulsory self-identification to the police.

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

The Government now proposes to have regulations limiting the Criminal Code offence warrants for which the RCMP will be searching. But this does nothing to address the fundamental point of principle that the police have no business using this extraordinary access to personal information to search for people wanted on warrants for any offences unrelated to terrorism.

As well, in the new bill the Government has removed the “identification of persons for whom a warrant has been issued” as a “purpose” for accessing passenger information under the legislation. But this is meaningless—indeed, disingenuous—

For all these reasons, we oppose this bill. Ever since the original bill was introduced, we have been speaking against a number of provisions which are still included in the bill. Despite all our efforts to improve the provisions that posed a problem, these remain unacceptable to us.

Public Safety, 2002
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.


Odina Desrochers Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Berthier—Montcalm. With words, sentences and substance, he was able to summarize all the issues that are now in Bill C-17, Bill C-55, Bill C-42 and Bill C-36.

However, no matter what number is given to this bill, it still contains flaws. Since the beginning of this debate today, we have talked constantly about the balance that must exist between freedom and security. Paragraph by paragraph, my colleague from Berthier—Montcalm has gone over the issues in this debate and, above all, has pointed out the elements that are contrary to our fundamental values.

My question is quite simple. No matter what number the government is using, whether it is Bill C-42, Bill C-55, Bill C-36 or Bill C-17, why is my colleague still saying that he is against this bill?

Public Safety, 2002
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.


Roger Gaudet Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, to respond to my colleague, I have been around a while and I remember the war measures in 1970. I was living in Montreal then and it was not pleasant to walk in the city's streets. I believe that, at that time, the government took on some rights it did not have in implementing war measures without a valid reason.

If we look at everything that happened with the war measures, bombs were placed by RCMP officers. In this bill, the RCMP has many powers. It seems to me that it has already a lot and perhaps some should be taken away.

Members of Parliament should all decide together what we want in the future.

Public Safety, 2002
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.


Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, when I spoke to Bill C-17 earlier, I said that I thought that the government just wanted to scare people. I said that there were organizations or groups which used the same methods as the government and continued to spread this fear. I talked about my house insurance.

The member for Berthier—Montcalm is a former mayor; he has been the chief executive of a municipality. I would like to know what he thinks. If he were still mayor, would he let this kind of legislation go through in his municipality?

Public Safety, 2002
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.


Roger Gaudet Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Terrebonne—Blainville for her question. As mayor, I probably would not have made that decision. Mayors are very close to the people, maybe closer than MPs are. Let us say that, in a municipality, we can meet people all the time; we live with them.

With what I know, I would have been against this bill. I would have never dared put it on the table. There was no justification for it. It was not good for the people in terms of their freedom, and their safety was not threatened. Judging by the War Measures Act, the safety of the people was not threatened at all.

Public Safety, 2002
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.


Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague was referring to the events of 1970. He said that he did not want to name names, but there is one name that comes to mind for me. I am thinking of officer Samson who placed a bomb near the residence of former Prime Minister Trudeau. While he did not die, he at least lost the use of one arm.

That is when it was discovered that a good many of the bombs had been planted by the RCMP to try to discredit those who were working for Quebec's sovereignty. That does not mean that FLQ members were being protected, but that there were groups that wanted to be heard.

To show that these groups were reprehensible, for example, the RCMP was asked to steal a Parti Quebecois membership list. That made everyone in Quebec very nervous and I, for one, very nearly lost my life.

In 1970 I was arrested and found myself looking down the barrels of two guns for an hour. I was arrested in Baie d'Urfé. I can report that, when one has done nothing wrong, and sees flashing lights and police officers everywhere, when one is taken for a criminal and has two guns pointed at one for more than an hour, until the error is discovered, giving more power to the police is not the first thing one would consider. I have always promised myself that I would think twice before I did anything of the sort.

After that incident, I told the police officers, “Now, to me you look like the bad guys”. Not all police officers are guilty of such disrespect, but when you have been held the way I was and the way others were in the 1970s, it leaves a scar. As my hon. friend pointed out, some 400 or 500 people were imprisoned for no valid reason, on the pretext of public safety. Give me a break. The only people safer were a few politicians.

Perhaps the politicians were helped to correct their errors, but the RCMP was asked to so something it never should have had to do. In my eyes, police forces in general lost much of their previous credibility. When the hon. member was talking about the 1970s, I was thinking about that event.

After September 11, we were told there was a need for security and I agree. I do not agree with those who commit crimes like the attacks on September 11. Nonetheless, after September 11, we heard some fine speeches from people who had put their finger on the problem.

I remember, after September 11, Tony Blair saying that now we must truly address the unrest in the world. We must ensure that there is more justice and deal with the root causes of what happened on September 11. Since then, those fine speeches have been shelved. The police are being asked to be repressive and to arrest anyone who looks the least bit dangerous.

If we had paid more attention to speeches like the one Tony Blair made the day after the attacks, there would be less fear today. We would not need Bill C-17. We would just have to ensure a little more justice in the world and stop stealing from those who cannot defend themselves. We go on about child poverty, but every day, more children are poor because of our policies that make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

If the bill did not give power to the police, but were used to ensure justice in the world, then all of my colleagues and I would vote for it. However, we will not vote for a bill such as Bill C-17.

Public Safety, 2002
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I will put this in the comments category. We will now resume the debate, but I must inform the House that we have exceeded the five hours of debate. The speeches will be limited to 10 minutes.

The hon. member for Repentigny.

Public Safety, 2002
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.


Benoît Sauvageau Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must say that I rise with considerable emotion after a comment or intervention like the one by my friend and colleague from Champlain. No bill, no motion, no subject in this House can be debated in this way, when a person has had an experience like that described by my friend and colleague.

Too often here in Ottawa, when we are discussing a bill, even if we want to be close to the public, we sometimes forget the distance that separates us MPs from our fellow citizens. A comment such as the one we have just heard reminds us that all the fine words we pronounce here have repercussions on our communities. The bills on which we vote will one day impact on the people in our communities, in our counties, in our municipalities. If we make poor decisions, they are the ones who will have to bear the brunt of our error, as in the circumstances the hon. member for Champlain has described to us.

We have just had a clear demonstration of that. It is why the Bloc Quebecois is so sensitive to Bill C-17. We have seen concrete examples of why we feel that way, and why we are opposed to the bill. We have wanted to remedy the situation right from the start, in order to make this bill, which started off as Bill C-36, more acceptable.

It is quite ironic that we are dealing with a problem that occurred on September 11, 2001 by discussing it on October 7, 2003. It is as if we were still discussing whether, if those tragic events had occurred here, who would be responsible for cleaning up the mess, the Minister of Industry or the Minister of National Defence.

More than two years after those tragic events, we are trying to remedy the situation through passage of a bill. We are still discussing the advantages of passing a public safety act, which started out as an antiterrorism act.

I will, if I may, give a little historical background on this Bill C-17 we have before us today.

As I mentioned earlier, Bill C-36 was introduced in response to terrorist attacks. Although we supported the idea of an antiterrorism bill—as it was originally called—we believe that this current bill disturbed the desired balance between security and freedom.

The Bloc Quebecois felt that this would not ensure a fair balance between security and freedom. Furthermore, the amendments proposed in committee by the minister are clearly insufficient to restore that balance.

The Bloc Quebecois did not oppose this legislation for the joy of opposing it. We did not block the bill, as we are often accused of doing. On the contrary, we tabled amendments, not to delay it, but to improve it and its implementation.

We had asked, and this is very important, for the bill to include a sunset clause. Something may happen, and perhaps this bill will no longer be needed in the future. There is a start date and an end date. This is not like legislation on the environment or the official languages. The official languages legislation had a sunset clause right from the start, meaning it was adopted one day and the next day it ceased to truly exist. The sun set very fast.

We asked that this bill be reviewed in one year and, second, that there be an end date. And if it needed to be extended, we would have been responsible and extended the bill.

We asked for an automatic review each year and not just every three years, as proposed. The sunset clause and the annual review, instead of every three years, were not significant changes, but rather corrections to bring the bill into line with its stated purpose, which is to protect the public from possible terrorist attacks or from the creation of terrorist groups.

We also found the bill's definition of terrorist acts overly broad.

Moreover, the fact that the attorney general could withhold information by not applying the Access to Information Act was not enough for us.

And there is also the fact that the bill will only be reviewed in three years' time, as I said before, and the fact that the Minister of National Defence would be able to intercept international communications simply by sending a written request to his officials. We also wanted to correct or clarify some other aspects to make the bill more acceptable, as I was saying previously.

Then Bill C-42 was introduced, followed by Bill C-55 and now by Bill C-17. We can see that this bill has evolved. Some of the amendments, some of the Bloc Quebecois' concerns have been heard and we have gained a very significant victory with regard to the controlled access military zones.

The situation was corrected and the designation “controlled access military zones” was taken out of Bill C-42 and of the following bills. If that had not been done, Quebec City for example could have been identified as a controlled access military zone et been subject to the War Measures Act and the Public Safety Act or Antiterrorism Act, and federal laws could have been suspended in these controlled access military zones.

The Bloc Quebecois has made a good presentation with respect to responsibility. Today we can say to everyone that even though we oppose Bill C-17 as it stands, at least we won a victory regarding the controlled access military zones.

But this is a special debate today, discussing a bill like this one that has an impact on people's individual freedom, rights and safety. At the same time, there is time allocation to gag us once again. We could set up a counter and keep track of the number of times they have forced through a time allocation motion.

Today, once again, the government House leader rose in the House to tell us that Bill C-17 is a very important bill. It is a bill on which consultations will be held, but in a very limited time frame. He told the members of Parliament and the message goes out to the population that bulldozer tactics are being used on a bill dealing with every man and woman's individual freedoms. I want to remind the House that it is extremely important and saddening that we are having closure imposed on this bill.

The last aspect of this legislation that particularly concerns us—and we oppose its application—are the powers to be granted to the RCMP. What image is the RCMP projecting today? I should ask, instead, what the Prime Minister and the government are doing to the RCMP's image, by using it for political purposes.

I want to give a few examples. There is Shawinigate, which concerns the golf course and the hotel. Three, four or even five years ago, the RCMP launched an investigation into apparent conflicts of interest. The report on this investigation has disappeared. Groupaction did not make three copies, that is for sure. If they did make three copies, then they lost all three. So, there is still no report, no investigation, and no conclusion to that investigation.

There is also the sponsorship scandal. Paul Coffin was investigated. The report will surely come out. The RCMP may be investigating others, the real big cases like Everest or Groupaction. We do not know and no one will tell us. In addition to this refusal to tell us, the investigation report will never be made public.

I feel it is totally unacceptable for a government to make use of the police for political purposes and thus to tarnish its image, particularly since it wants to give it more powers.

In addition to Shawinigate and the sponsorship scandals, now we have CINAR. They refuse to tell us whether there has been an investigation and whether there was a report. We do not want to know the report's contents, just whether or not it exists. That is all we want to know, and they will not tell us. They are even refusing to tell us whether there was an investigation or not, yet the then deputy prime minister and heritage minister gave us the name and phone number of the lady who was supposedly carrying it out. Today they will not even tell us if there was an investigation.

As for the Radwanski affair, here we have the same thing all over again. Maybe the RCMP will look into it. We will end up with more or less the same result as with the ethics counsellor, which is either nothing at all, or something that is totally useless.

We are therefore opposed to enhanced powers for the RCMP. In principle, we want to improve this bill and to make it acceptable. As it is, however, we will continue our opposition to it.

Public Safety, 2002
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.


Joe Comartin Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I assume that I have the last few minutes of debate on this bill. I want to concentrate my comments as succinctly as possible on the effect of this bill, specifically on the community that is going to be most targeted.

I listened to a number of the other speakers and some of the information that came out of the committee. Everybody agreed that this bill is about balancing security and safety with civil liberties and civil rights. When doing that balancing act, if we start from an atmosphere of hysteria and fear, we know where we will end up. That is true, whether it was during the second world war when we incarcerated the Japanese Canadians, members of the Italian community, and members of the German community, or whether it was during the October crisis. The reaction in fear to a crisis was nowhere near proportional to the need for the War Measures Act.

We are in the same atmosphere post-September 11. We get this kind of legislation where there is no balance, where civil liberties and civil rights are very clearly a secondary consideration. It is a bill that turns over those rights and the ability to abuse those rights to a very small cadre of people in this country and it does not allow for any meaningful oversight of the role that those individuals would play.

It was very interesting that at the time the War Measures Act was used, we did not have any oversight body. We saw the kind of abuse that went on as a result of using that legislation. It is the reason that we did away with it when calmer times prevailed.

What are we doing now? We are repeating the same mistake. We are putting into place legislation, and this is the end of the pieces of legislation after Bill C-36, that will rebuild that infrastructure which is wide open to abuse. At the same time as we are doing that, we are limiting if not eliminating any oversight by Parliament and realistically by our courts.

This legislation in many respects has been drafted in such broad language that our courts will have a very difficult time using the charter to protect individual citizens. What we have learned post-Bill C-36 is that the Muslim community and people who come from certain areas of the world are going to be most negatively impacted. We are going to see a very real reduction in their rights and with this bill in particular, a reduction in their right to travel. If they travel to the Middle East or into Pakistan, they will now have a profile which makes them suspicious. Their ability to be involved in politics in this country will have a chill on it because they are going to be seen as associating with certain groups.

The reality is that is the consequence of this legislation. We will not be able to claim ignorance because we know from the results of Bill C-36 what the consequences will be.

Public Safety, 2002
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 5:45 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier today, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of third reading stage of the bill now before the House.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?