Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this motion to extend investigative hearings and preventive arrest under the sunset clause introduced in 2002.
I was not here at the time, but after listening to the little bit of debate held on the matter, these measures seem to me to be the product of an overreaction, which occurred in a moment of panic following the events of September 11, 2001.
It is the responsibility of parliamentarians to do everything in their power to protect Canadians, taking whatever effective measures are needed to do so.
Today, we must first ask ourselves if these measures are effective or necessary. It seems increasingly clear to me that they are neither effective nor necessary, nor even desirable. This bill does nothing to combat terrorism.
It must be fought in a different way. It has been suggested that it could be more useful to fight with coordinated intelligence services. Evidence has demonstrated it just was not present. One of the things we saw clearly at the time, for example, in the Air-India investigation was that our investigative and intelligence services were not only not coordinated, but they were working at cross purposes with each other.
We learned many things through this process that, among other things, coordinated services and intelligence services were necessary on the ground along with combined appropriate police work.
This kind of terrorist action must be fought internationally and nationally. Internationally, I might say, by charting a path for peace. Pre-emptive actions, such as these measures provide, are not only disruptive, but they have been shown, as in the case of the pre-emptive strikes in Iraq, to be unsuccessful in calming or mitigating terrorism. They have only served to inflame it.
Have these measures been effective or even necessary? We found out that they have not been successfully used. One attempt was made, but was unsuccessful and only served to further draw out a legal process. That, perhaps, is indicative of the lack of need.
As leading peace advocate Ursula Franklin has described, such measures are maybe effective, but effective to create a climate of fear, and that is surely not the basis on which our country is founded. We should be looking instead at terrorism from a wider perspective and reassess how it is that we can best protect our citizens without ceding ground to terrorists.
It has been suggested by some of my colleagues that better coordinated intelligence services, as I have already mentioned, would be the first step where we need to put more resources. We have also learned that what we really need is more people on the ground, on the street, doing traditional intelligence gathering. That may be something that we should be looking at instead of invoking these extraordinary measures that strike at the very core of our rights and freedoms in Canada.
It has been shown by a minority report at the time of the discussion that this legislation is perhaps not only not effective, but not necessary, that according to section 495 of the Criminal Code, peace officers may arrest without warrant a person who, on reasonable grounds, they believe is about to commit an indictable offence. The arrested person must then be brought before a judge, who may impose the same conditions as those imposable under the Anti-terrorism Act. Judges may even refuse bail if they believe that the person's release might jeopardize public safety.
We have clear indications that we have presently, within the Criminal Code provisions, effective actions in the case of suspected plots. I just want to continue from the minority report. It states that if police officers believe that a person is about to commit an act of terrorism, then they have knowledge of the plot, obviously.
They probably know, based on wiretap or other surveillance information, that an indictable offence is about to be committed. Therefore, they have proof of a plot or attempt, and need only lay a charge in order to arrest the person in question. It would therefore seem that the kinds of measures that are being asked for, one of which is an extension, are not necessary.
Considering the infringement on our rights and freedoms, I believe that there must be more than just reasonable grounds. We need to see conditions that do not exist at this time. The measures required today or that the government is asking us to adopt could in no way help to resolve the much more serious problem of terrorism.
It would be better to focus on finding a path towards peace. On an international scale, Canada should take steps in that direction, with its allies, including the United States. Instead of investing heavily in the war industry, as is currently the case, we should instead be thinking of finding ways to work together in order to discover the underlying causes of terrorism.
It seems clear that those who give way to terrorism are those who are also facing an injustice. If Canada were to perhaps look at the commitment that it has not yet fulfilled with respect to foreign aid, that would be one way of addressing some of these issues.
If we really want to give a sense of security to our citizens and to the residents of Canada, then we must do so by applying some of the methods that are already at our disposal according to the Criminal Code, looking beyond the traditional framework, and really considering some of the causes of terrorism and addressing some of the profound causes of injustice.