House of Commons Hansard #118 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provisions.


Anti-terrorism ActOrders of the Day

12:55 p.m.


Pierre Lemieux Conservative Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, to answer the first part of the question regarding the point about how these powers appear not to have been used in the last five years and whether we really need them, just because they have not been used does not mean they are not important and that they will not need to be used in the next three years. I would like to point out as well that the member's very question undermines the position of the Liberal Party, in that it shows that great restraint is used by peace officers in actually applying the provisions we are talking about under this Anti-terrorism Act.

Second, the member asks about my son or daughter and how I would like it and so on. The provisions contained within the Anti-terrorism Act are constitutional. In 2004, in a reference related to the Air-India prosecution, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the constitutionality of these provisions. That is important to know.

Third, these provisions are used only under the most dire of circumstances. At the end of my speech, I read out for members the conditions that must apply and pointed out the caution that is taken before applying these two provisions. If somebody meets the circumstances of those provisions, then yes, these provisions should be brought against them, and if not, then they would not be. I think we have seen that in the lack of use of these provisions over the last five years.

Anti-terrorism ActOrders of the Day

12:55 p.m.


Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell for his work on this and many issues in making Canada truly a safer place for every Canadian and in ensuring that we have the tools necessary to keep Canadians safe.

Earlier I questioned the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore about this whole issue. He talked about bringing a resolution forward to amend the bill. I would like to ask the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell if it is his understanding that a resolution could amend this bill to include all the things that the Liberals want included. The Liberals are talking about all kinds of things in regard to changing it. Is it the understanding of the hon. member that a resolution could truly do what the Liberals are asking it to do?

Anti-terrorism ActOrders of the Day

12:55 p.m.


Pierre Lemieux Conservative Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

No, Mr. Speaker. It is my understanding, and it is common knowledge, that the Anti-terrorism Act that we are debating right now was brought forward by the Liberal-dominated government at that time and passed in Parliament. It was considered important legislation. It was considered well presented legislation as well.

Within the Anti-terrorism Act, it demands that an unamendable motion be laid before Parliament. As I was explaining to the member who spoke just before me, we are not here to discuss completely redoing the Anti-terrorism Act, but within the act is this provision regarding an unamendable motion at the end of the sunset period in order to renew the provisions contained within the Anti-terrorism Act.

What Liberal Party members are doing, of course, is throwing up a smokescreen, one of delay, duck and dodge. They do not want to address this issue head-on. They do not want to act in the best interests of Canadians. They are acting in a very partisan manner. As I also read out for the member previously, they are under tremendous pressure from different organizations across Canada to change their position for the best interests of Canadians.

Anti-terrorism ActOrders of the Day

1 p.m.


Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest while the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell was explaining this to the House and particularly to Canadians, because in this House, of course, we are unfortunately beginning to see lines being drawn where lines should not be drawn. By lines being drawn, I mean that parties are taking positions surrounding the Anti-terrorism Act that historically they have not taken. In particular, our Liberal confreres across the way are now displaying what I believe to be an ill-advised stance with regard to the Anti-terrorism Act.

In regard to the act, I would like to ask my hon. friend a question. Why is the government not considering in this motion the changes recommended by the subcommittee? I will repeat that, in this particular motion, because this is a motion that has some procedural mechanisms surrounding it. Perhaps the hon. member would be able to respond to that.

Anti-terrorism ActOrders of the Day

1 p.m.


Pierre Lemieux Conservative Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I explained in my previous response, the Anti-terrorism Act as passed by a Liberal-controlled Parliament at the time demands that an unamendable motion be laid before Parliament, so we are not able to amend the motion.

What we want to do is implement the provisions contained within the Anti-terrorism Act for another three years, in which case there is another sunset clause after three years, and then Parliament will revisit the Anti-terrorism Act to weigh the security of Canadians, the threat of terrorism and the conditions within Canada at that time.

Anti-terrorism ActOrders of the Day

February 26th, 2007 / 1 p.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege for me to rise and speak to this motion. I must say that I feel rather ashamed. I was here in the House in 2001 when we had the debate. I remember very well all the questions raised by the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, who was the opposition leader at the time, as well as those of our justice critic, Michel Bellehumeur, the hon. member for Berthier—Montcalm.

We were worried about a number of things. The first was the very definition of terrorism and a terrorist act. I do not want to return to all that because the Supreme Court did not rule on it. The other extremely important questions that we raised had to do with procedural fairness, the right to a full and complete defence, and how best to achieve a laudable objective. We need to remember the situation in 2001 and how concerned we were, especially in view of what had happened in the United States. We know how close the historical bonds have been between Canada and the United States, bonds that led a former Canadian Prime Minister to say of our relationship that geography made us neighbours but history made us friends.

We could not remain unmoved by the collapse of the twin towers and all the information pouring forth about terrorist networks, real or potential. I would like to thank the hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, by the way, for all the vigilance he has shown.

The speeches we heard this morning are pretty amazing in some respects. I should say, first, that for me the Liberals and the Conservatives are the same. We need to remember what the Liberals were saying. The Bloc was very clear. Not that we were great seers or prophets, but we did anticipate a few things. Some provisions of the bill that was being introduced, Bill C-36, were obviously incompatible with the basic principles on which our justice system is built.

I remember very well the questions and comments made by the justice minister at the time. They were even more unacceptable in that she was a former professor of constitutional law who had written articles on legal guarantees and procedural fairness, which I had had occasion to read.

The Liberals and Conservatives were animated by a common desire to move as quickly as possible and respond to the emergency because the situation was indeed very worrisome.

I read the Supreme Court ruling from beginning to end. What the Supreme Court told us is that in a democracy, and in a system where the rule of law means something, the end never justifies the means. As parliamentarians, we must respect that. The Conservatives and the Liberals were of one mind; we realize, with hindsight, that their position does not stand up to our most basic principles of justice.

It is demagogy, to some extent, to rise this morning in this House and to make it seem as though there are those who are concerned about the safety of citizens and those who are not. All parliamentarians in this House are concerned about the safety of citizens. However, it may be that, in our work as parliamentarians, we have to propose measures that push the boundaries when it comes to how we perceive the evidence or how we see the process unfolding.

I was in this House when Bill C-95, the first anti-gang bill, was adopted in 1997.

The definition of a criminal organization then was: five individuals who, in the past five years, committed offences punishable by more than five years' imprisonment.

At that time, there was also a sense of urgency. However, I would never have thought about rising in this House and voting for this bill, which was to be revised by Bill C-24, if the principal condition of the law had been to deny the accused access to all the evidence. That is the problem with this bill. I am surprised that no government members have noted this fact.

We will have an opportunity to mention this: the Criminal Code does contain mechanisms for preventive detention. First, common law recognizes this principle and the Supreme Court has recognized it several times. We need not go very far. Section 495 of the Criminal Code—if my memory serves me correctly—allows a police officer to arrest, on reasonable grounds, a person he believes has committed or is about to commit an offence.

Later, of course, the individual will have a trial and can be represented. All legal guarantees will be offered and justice will be served the way it should be in an adversarial system, in other words, the public prosecution lays charges and provides evidence and the accused can defend himself or herself. Getting to the truth is what this confrontation should be all about. That is not what is being proposed in the antiterrorist provisions.

We are not against the fact that measures are needed. I am sure that the hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin never said anything of the sort. We acknowledge that some individuals may pose a threat to national security. It is true there are terrorist movements.

I remember attending lectures given by researchers from the Raoul Dandurand Chair in strategic and diplomatic studies. We know that terrorist movements have been at work and that they will be in the years to come. We are even told that the largest terrorist movements, which constitute the worst threat to the security of modern states, are those with religious motivations.

We know all that. We are not questioning the fact that in legislation, whether in the Immigration Act or in other legislation, a minister may be asked to review situations where individuals will have to be deemed threats to national security. We recognize that and we agree that in all modern countries, particularly in vast countries and countries where borders are porous, it is acceptable for these provisions to exist.

Nonetheless, there is something quite unbelievable in these provisions. The Supreme Court said that the way in which the antiterrorist provisions are set up, in their wording and the way the courts are called to interpret them, some procedural guarantees are being breached. I will come back to that.

This leads to the following question. Can these terrorist movements be dismantled by using the provisions in sections 83.27, 83.28, 83.29, and 83.3? Why have these provisions not been invoked? Logically speaking, just because they have not been invoked yet does not mean they will not be in the future, but this is nonetheless a measure of their immediate relevance.

Under the existing Criminal Code—as we were reminded—an individual can be arrested without a warrant. It even sets out that in individual can be brought before a judge, compelled to enter into a recognizance to keep the peace and prohibited from contacting certain individuals. This is set out in section 810 of the Criminal Code.

Section 465 even includes a provision that allows for the arrest of individuals on the basis of conspiracy alone and because there is a risk they will commit acts at a later date. It is not as though we are completely without any other legislative recourse, or as though there is nothing in our existing legislation.

Something is very troubling. While we may not agree on how our political system operates, we cannot deny that there is a recognized tradition of respect for human rights. This includes Diefenbaker's Canadian Bill of Rights, the Canadian Human Rights Act adopted in 1977 and, more recently, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In the National Assembly, in 1982, at the time the Canadian Charter was debated, we did not agree on the management of linguistic rights. Nor did we agree on section 27 pertaining to the enhancement of multicultural heritage. We nevertheless recognize the charter as a tool for the protection of human rights, particularly for judicial guarantees, which, moreover, already exist and were already set out in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. We recognize that it serves as a tool for the promotion and enhancement of human rights.

As legislators, how could we have let ourselves become distracted? The Bloc Québécois cannot be blamed because, based on the recommendation of the leader of the Bloc and our justice critic, we voted unanimously against BIll C-36.

Why did we vote against Bill C-36? Because we did not believe that an individual could receive a fair trial without access to the evidence, especially the most important pieces of evidence, the ones supporting the charges or leading to a guilty verdict. The Supreme Court spoke of “sensitive information”. That was the main problem with the proposed law.

I would like to quote what the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court said on page 54. A unanimous ruling is significant, after all. In a decision written by Madam Justice McLachlin, the court said:

I therefore conclude that the IRPA's procedure for determining whether a certificate is reasonable does not conform to the principles of fundamental justice as embodied in s. 7 of the Charter.

This is serious. Legislators should be very concerned about this paragraph. I have difficulty understanding the government's obstinate refusal to recognize the proposed law. Of course, the Conservatives were not responsible for creating it; the Liberals were.

I hope that all Parliamentarians in this House will acknowledge that things have been taken too far, that due process is not happening and that even though we have a general duty to protect our fellow citizens, we must have safe communities. Specifically, we must protect our fellow citizens from possible terrorist attacks.

The court will explain what it means by the “principles of fundamental justice” embodied in section 7. This section is well known to us all. It concerns life, liberty and security of the person. The Supreme Court will say that those rights cannot be interfered with. First and foremost, we must ensure an impartial hearing.

The Supreme Court considered the question of the evidence being introduced ex parte, that is, the judge reviews the evidence, but not in the presence of both parties, specifically, defence lawyers for the person named in the certificate.

Is it not troubling to know that a person who does not appear before the judge—a judge who has reviewed the evidence, including the sensitive information—cannot refute that information, cannot correct the facts, cannot explain them, cannot respond to the quality of the information provided and the credibility of the informants?

Not only did the Supreme Court say that it was a miscarriage or denial of justice, as must exist for section 7 of the Charter to apply, but it also said that judges hearing the evidence ex parte are placed in a position where they cannot be impartial. Is this not tantamount to asking them to be investigators?

The court said that not allowing a person detained under a certificate to receive all of the evidence and be able to refute, explain and correct it, and to question the source of the evidence infringes section 7.

The court did not say that security certificates are unnecessary. Over the next year, the court invites the legislator to review the way in which certificates are issued. It is interesting to remember that the court gave the United Kingdom as an example. In committee, this was even brought to the attention of parliamentarians. The court even gives Canadian examples where the members of a House of Commons subcommittee, who were hearing from employees of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, were able to respect the security and confidentiality requirements and still carry out their parliamentary work.

The court also has the following observation, and again I will cite Justice McLachlin. Furthermore, no parliamentarian or minister has provided an explanation for this. I hope they will during our exchanges later. Justice McLachlin said, “—Why the drafters of the legislation did not provide for special counsel to objectively review the material with a view to protecting the named person's interest—as was formerly done for the review of security certificates by the Security Intelligence Review Committee, and is presently done in the United Kingdom...has not been explained”.

The United Kingdom has also passed antiterrorist provisions. The court wonders why we did not take the same route. The court proposes a compromise between complete denial of access to sensitive information about the person named in the security certificate and the possible confidential nature of certain information in thwarting terrorist attacks, in other words a procedural fairness requirement, a requirement for respecting basic justice. The court says that if we want to maintain these balances, these powers that have to be balanced between national security, confidentiality of certain information, but also the rights of those who may be charged—who are in fact charged in some cases—then we need access to information. I hope the government will take this into account during the review it has been given one year to do.

In closing, I cannot believe that people were detained for five or six years. I am running out of time. However, we have to remember that different rules apply depending on whether the person is a permanent resident or a foreign national when it comes to a review of detention. A permanent resident gets this review within 48 hours and every six months. A foreign national can be imprisoned for 120 days without ever having their detention reviewed. As the Supreme Court pointed out, this does not make any sense.

I will stop here, but, once again, I believe there is no reason to be proud today of Bill C-36. In my opinion, this House would have been better advised to listen to the Bloc Québécois when it gave these warnings. Fortunately, the Supreme Court was able to take an informed look at this legislation that offends human dignity and the best we can do is to review it.

Anti-terrorism ActOrders of the Day

1:20 p.m.


Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have carefully followed the line of reasoning the member has put forward and I must say that I find it very compelling where he alludes to ex parte orders and the general application of the rule of law where within a reasonable period of time one who is accused for alleged criminal activities has the absolute right to confront those who are making the allegations within a reasonable format.

I realize that this particular legislation balances out the higher interest with those individuals but I do not understand that. I wonder if the member could help the House understand in terms of natural law, the right for a balanced and fair hearing and due process, how this legislation can be charter compliant when the charter has from time to time adjudicated on the rights of individuals under similar circumstances as they are placed on the fulcrum of public debate with respect to the higher community interest.

How, in the member's view, can this legislation be charter compliant? I really have not been able to understand that and perhaps with the background he has he could take the opportunity to outline that for the House.

Anti-terrorism ActOrders of the Day

1:25 p.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I do not know whether I understood it, but I will try to answer as best I can.

First of all, I believe that the Supreme Court has clearly established that the charter provides the same guarantees, the same protection, whether or not someone is a Canadian citizen, and that that must be applied.

Does this mean that ex parte hearings are incompatible with the charter under any circumstances? No. For example, for fingerprint orders, in some cases of judicial release and in other situations, it is possible to hold a hearing where only one party is present.

However, that is not what we are talking about with regard to anti-terrorism provisions. What we are talking about is the fact that the person named in the certificate never has the opportunity to see all the evidence, especially so-called “sensitive” information.

The individual is not only denied the right to see this evidence, but is not represented. First, this places the judge in an unusual position, and second, the individual's rights are denied. The Supreme Court focussed its analysis on section 7 of the charter. Other provisions were mentioned, such as arbitrary detention and the right to equality under section 15, but the Supreme Court based 80% of its judgment on this point.

This is disturbing. I repeat, what concerns me is that for a legislator, for a democrat, the end never justifies the means. Canada also had and still does have Criminal Code provisions on conspiracy, preventive arrest—section 810—and arrest warrants. All that is possible.

I believe that there was a desire to act quickly and that the government and the official opposition at the time misjudged the situation. The best thing we could do for Canada's reputation with respect to human rights, which has already been marred by the Arar case, would be to correct these provisions.

The Supreme Court itself has proposed solutions. The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security has also proposed solutions, but I am afraid that this government is so dogmatic and hard-nosed that it is likely to ignore such recommendations. I know what this government thinks of judges, and it is not very reassuring.

Anti-terrorism ActOrders of the Day

1:25 p.m.


Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, we clearly heard that one of the checks on potential abuses with the application of these sections subject to a sunset clause is the requirement to obtain the authorization of the Attorney General.

Since the appointment of the Attorney General, my colleague for Hochelaga has heard him reply to various questions and participate in certain debates. Is it reassuring for him to know that the Attorney General can deny the sometimes unreasonable requests of the police?

Anti-terrorism ActOrders of the Day

1:25 p.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt that the Attorney General is quite a respectable person. Some say that he is charming, conciliatory and that he is very committed to being an honourable parliamentarian. However, we must look at the entire relationship that he may have with police forces and the complete respect that he must have for certain procedural guarantees that we are entitled to expect in a state which abides by the rule of law. My colleague is right: I am somewhat concerned.

The ruling has been handed down. It has put the government on notice to correct certain abuses. The Supreme Court identified potential solutions but it has given the government a fair amount of leeway. I hope this government will come to its senses.

To be true to history, I must also say that the government is not solely responsible because, at the time, the government of the day acted just as precipitously.

In reply to my colleague's question, I would say that I am somewhat concerned because I am familiar with the Attorney General's view of the police and judges. I hope that the Conservatives will nevertheless set aside a somewhat unfortunate dogmatism and will put forward solutions that respect the guarantees provided by section 7.

Anti-terrorism ActOrders of the Day

1:30 p.m.


Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on the motion to extend the provisions of Section 83 of the Criminal Code, which, if they are not extended by a vote of the House, will lapse and die. Arguably, if there is a need for these types of provisions, new legislation will need to be introduced, thereby creating a gap in our law, if it is the will of the House and the government to proceed in that way.

These particular sunset provisions were added to the Criminal Code by Bill C-36 after extensive justice committee study and public debate. I was very involved in the work of the justice committee and I do have some personal knowledge of those events at that time.

The sunset provisions were inserted at the insistence of a number of people, including members of the House, for two possible scenarios. The first was the possibility that the provisions, which were quite new to the Criminal Code, might be misused in some way. It turns out that the sections have not been used and therefore have not been misused.

The second reason was in the event that the sections were not needed. Over time it was felt that the perceived need for this type of procedure might not be there and if the conspiracy that gave rise to this legislation was to end, diminish or calm, it could be argued that these more robust procedural provisions might not be necessary and that our ordinary laws might prevail and be usable.

In my view, I do not think either of those circumstances have occurred. There has not been a misuse of the provisions and the conspiracy that gave rise to them has not ended or calmed. I will speak to that later in my remarks.

One could say that these provisions were certainly not enacted because they were not needed. If they were not needed, they would not have been enacted. In fact, the public servants and parliamentarians who generated the legislation could see the need at that time and that is why they were enacted. One could argue that circumstances have changed and that is part of the subject of debate here today.

Why were the sections needed five years ago? I think the reason relates to the fact that there was an acknowledged gap in our criminal law, our common law, that simply evolved through the passage of time. Prior to the last century, the subject of security of the state was in the hands of the king. In fact, it was listed among the king's prerogatives and the king actually did take care of that kind of business.

We have all read history books and seen the movies. The king and his forces would actually detain and arrest people who were conspirators against the state. I suppose they did not make fine distinctions in those days whether it involved a conspiracy, a sedition, a subversion or a treason. These were all components of the common law in those days. The king simply would detain the person, perhaps arrest the person and make use of the dungeon and eventually liquidate the conspiracy.

After we entered into the 20th century, with the growth of civil liberties and written constitutions, it became apparent that our citizens needed rule of law. Commonwealth jurisdictions then adopted what were then known as the war measures acts. When the state entered into a serious war conflict, it relied on special legislation called the war measures act. It was used during the first world war and the second world war.

Eventually, in the modern context, those pieces of legislation were seen to be a bit too draconian for peacetime and therefore were dropped. We no longer have a war measures act. As a result, the legislation we relied on through the Korean War and the two world wars up to about the 1960s is no longer there so that the state cannot rely on any special provisions. It must use the criminal law.

We then had the terrible events of 9/11. Roughly 300 or 400 miles from here as the crow flies, we witnessed the events in Washington, New York and Pennsylvania. Following that, other events occurred in Bali, Madrid, Philippines, London and an almost event in Los Angeles. These events have been ugly. They were terrorist attacks, killing and maiming many and creating the maximum in violence, disruption and disorder. That is the nature of the threat.

As I mentioned, we do not have the provisions that used to be contained in the war measures act, and not only do we not have those, but in years gone by the state could rely on conspiracy laws. However, with the evolution of modern evidentiary rules, it becomes very difficult to convict for a conspiracy. As a result, because the sections have fallen into disuse, not many police or crown prosecutors are good at using them and the courts are not comfortable with them.

I would also point out that we no longer have grand jury investigations. These were part of our criminal process. A grand jury would be invoked, put in place and would investigate allegations of a criminal act or a conspiracy before they actually occurred or just after they happened but before criminal charges were laid. Two or three decades ago our jurisdiction stopped using the grand jury procedure.

At the end of the day, our laws have given up on the war measures act, the law of conspiracy and grand juries. My point is that there has been, by happenstance, a gap in our law. In peacetime, our laws work quite well. We are always reforming them but our laws generally are up to the test, but when the state gets into a conflict or it is at risk, it would be my view that the state needs to rely on a different set of provisions. These sunsetted provisions in Bill C-36, the Anti-terrorism Act, were intended to fill the gap.

It is also worth noting that all of our major allies had to do the same thing. This is not just a Canadian story. Our allies in the U.K., the United States of America and Australia all had to legislate to fill this gap in their laws as well. That is a notable thing and we in the House should take note of it. This is not a circumstances peculiar to Canada.

It is important to segregate things which are not politically, legally connected. I have read some of the debates and I have seen some of the media on this. We are not dealing with investigative warrants under the Security of Information Act. We are not dealing with investigative warrants taken out by CSIS to deal with threats to the security of Canada under the CSIS Act. We are not dealing with continued detention under the Immigration Act. We are not dealing with security certificates, which are removal procedures under the Immigration Act. All of those things are outside the envelope of what we are dealing with here.

We are dealing with two sections. The first one, the investigative hearings section, is both retrospective and prospective in its stance. It can look in the rear view mirror at threats and offences and terrorist activities that happened previously, or prospectively or pre-emptively into the future. The second one is the detention with recognizance section and that is pre-emptive in perspective. In other words, it does not look backward. It is there for the purpose of pre-empting an imminent terrorist attack.

I have tried in my own layman's way to conjure up a scenario when these sections would be used. This is one thing that is actually missing from the debate and I am not sure why. I am curious why security professionals or government officials have not offered a scenario which would explain a bit more clearly how and why these sections would be used. I realize that security professionals do not want to alarm the public. They do not want to reveal existing procedures. They are under oath to keep their information inside a security loop. These are probably some of the reasons we have not had that element of this debate.

It is also notable that this country's security apparatus is populated by officials who do not have the power of arrest. This is a very important distinction here. Most people think that CSIS officials can run around and scoop people off the street. The fact is they cannot legally or otherwise. CSIS officials are not even armed. They do not arrest people. The only people who arrest in this country are peace officers, that is, police officers. All the security professionals on the job are not able to make an arrest, whether it is at CSIS or CSE or in transport. They must be peace officers before they can arrest anyone.

As we develop our intelligence data, it is important to realize that if there is going to be any pre-emption of a terrorist attack by an arrest, it would be done by a policeman, not by our security apparatus. Most of the information we get involving security and intelligence comes from the broader security and intelligence apparatus. Some of it comes from police intelligence, but the bulk of it comes from our security and intelligence apparatus and our allies. That is a very important and indispensable function.

Because we do not have a scenario here, I am going to suggest the scenario of a border attack somewhere on the Canadian border. I do not think I am being right off the page here in suggesting there could be an attack. I do not have to go into any gory details; let me just say that an attack is possible and that the attack is imminent. Let me suggest that police and authorities may not have all the data needed to obtain a Criminal Code warrant for any of the existing provisions in the Criminal Code. They may have only one or two persons identified. They may have a possible target identified. They may have detected part of a cell and a likely target. They may not be able technically to connect all of the dots necessary to obtain a Criminal Code warrant. If they can, then they can take out a Criminal Code warrant and make an arrest.

Let me suggest as well that this data has not come from their own sources, but has come from an intelligence agency or an allied intelligence agency. I will assume for the sake of my scenario that the information is credible and real.

Given the potential for massive violence and disorder, pre-emption becomes the order of the day. It becomes a priority. If people are not sure what massive violence and disorder is, they should think about what happened in London, Madrid or New York City, just to get the flavour of what this is.

Under these sections a peace officer using credible data, probably packaged by an intelligence agency, either domestic or ally, would then present the information very quickly to the attorney general of a province. If some members think that is time consuming, some of our constituents have to wait sometimes to see an MP or to see a cabinet minister, but I can say that getting through to the attorney general of a province on a matter of priority happens very quickly. I have had the pleasure of dealing with an attorney general on a matter of that nature, and it was a very prompt and a very quick turnaround time. The information is then packaged for an attorney general, who must provide consent in writing. The information is then taken to a judge, who must also sign off and issue the warrants.

The procedure for the use of these sections is judicially supervised in the beginning. It is consented to by the attorney general representing the government. It is managed by a peace officer, police officer, subject to the Criminal Code. The entire process in both sections has been judicialized. It is totally judicially supervised. There is a warrant, a judge, an attorney general, and a totally judicialized procedure. It looks awfully charter compliant to me.

It has already been mentioned that our courts have agreed that these procedures are charter compliant. An argument that the charter is a reason that these sections should not be renewed, in my view, respectfully to all of those who feel that way, is not on; I do not accept that. There may be other issues involving civil liberties that concern them, but certainly not the charter, at least not in a way that I have heard in this House or in the courts up to now.

There are some side notes worth noting. Both the committee of this House and the committee of the Senate have reviewed these provisions and have reported back confirming their support for the provisions.

Also, there exists, as I pointed out earlier, an arguable symmetry between the provisions that we have enacted here and the provisions enacted by our major allies. They operate on the assumption, and I know there was collaboration back at the time these sections were enacted, that our legislation bears some analogy to their own, that when we deal with our allies, they will have the ability to act quickly, and when they deal with us, we will have a similar ability to act quickly.

If these two sections are to lapse, it is arguable that our legislation will not be so symmetric, will not coincide with the legislation of our allies. Since the threat of conspiracy persists, and I am informed that it does, they may be curious as to why we would allow these two sections to lapse.

I would attribute the argument that the sections have not been used to good intelligence work and good luck. Both of those have contributed to that. Regarding the suggestion that the sections are not needed, one only has to look at weekend reports from the United Kingdom, where public reports are that the threat level there is as high as it has ever been.

With all due respect to many in the House who are concerned about the civil liberties aspects of this, I hope the record will show that these sections are charter compliant and that they are there for the benefit of Canadians as a whole as a protection order. I hope colleagues will take all of that into consideration in the vote.

Anti-terrorism ActOrders of the Day

1:50 p.m.


Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently while my hon. friend was speaking on the two very important issues surrounding the Anti-terrorism Act and those parts of it that are governed by the sunset clause. I heard him recount with great intensity the necessity of having attorneys general supervise some of the issues surrounding those two provisions.

I would like to read a quote from the Supreme Court which deals specifically on this issue. The Supreme Court justices were referring in this case to certain issues surrounding the two items we are talking about here. They dealt specifically with an accusation that the sections violated section 7 rights of the charter. The quote is as follows:

The challenge for democracies in the battle against terrorism is not whether to respond, but rather how to do so. This is because Canadians value the importance of human life and liberty, and the protection of society through respect for the rule of law. Indeed, a democracy cannot exist without the rule of law....Yet, at the same time, while respect for the rule of law must be maintained in the response to terrorism, the Constitution is not a suicide pact,

I wonder if the member would like to comment on that.

Anti-terrorism ActOrders of the Day

1:50 p.m.


Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I could comment by agreeing with it. I think the court has it right.

I think everyone in this House would agree that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms should not be used as a recipe book for a terrorist attack. The challenge is to have a balance where the state has the tools necessary to protect the broader public interest, including preventing an attack, but at the same time ensuring that all citizens are treated fairly in terms of their civil liberties.

We have made some mistakes as a country. We could argue they were minor; for the individuals involved they were serious. Failure to observe the letter and spirit of the charter has gotten us into difficulty. Our country would be better if we could observe the charter throughout everything. Getting that balance just right is the goal.

In creating these provisions, the two we are dealing with, I cannot recall provisions which were subjected to greater charter compliant scrutiny at the parliamentary level than these. The provisions are littered with charter compliance mechanisms and sidebars. Although the court has not had the ability to test these provisions in a real life scenario, I am very confident that the court would be supportive of Parliament in doing whatever it thinks best, provided we give due regard to the individual under the charter.

Anti-terrorism ActOrders of the Day

1:55 p.m.


Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying just how much I admire the member for Scarborough—Rouge River and to what extent I have valued his legal mind in the past.

First, I would like to comment on something he said. He said that many of our allies have taken similar measures. I would like to quote something Kofi Annan said during the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security held in Madrid on March 10, 2005. After discussing the dangers of terrorism in relation to human rights and the rule of law, he added that:

—If we sacrifice them in our response, we are handing a victory to the terrorists.

I regret to say that international human rights experts, including those of the UN system, are unanimous in finding that many measures which States are currently adopting to counter terrorism infringe on human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Upholding human rights is not merely compatible with a successful counter-terrorism strategy. It is an essential element in it.

In my opinion, these are the kinds of remarks we consider when we try to strike a balance between the effectiveness of the proposed measures and the potential for abuse they represent.

The honourable member quite rightly said that he himself was obliged to invent a scenario to explain when these provisions would be used. How is it that even though committee members asked, nobody else was able to identify a dangerous situation to which these provisions could apply, when there are other provisions in the Criminal Code, especially those against conspiracy?

According to him, charges of conspiracy are now uncommon. Yet in my practice, I have seen a great many. They are very easy to prove because most of the time, they are uncovered by electronic surveillance. Even in the example he gave, there was clearly a conspiracy and, therefore, the potential for charging someone and bringing them before a judge, who could deny bail on the basis of the evidence presented.

We, too, want to strike a balance with effective measures. That said, they never have been and it seems they never will be, yet they are still dangerous.

Anti-terrorism ActOrders of the Day

1:55 p.m.


Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member himself is no stranger to public security issues.

I do not have any trouble with the quote from Mr. Kofi Annan or with the Supreme Court quote earlier. Even our deputy leader, the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, has articulated similar sentiments in a book.

I accept that there has not been placed before the House a hypothetical real scenario whereby we could show that our conspiracy laws would be inadequate and fail and the terrorist attack could proceed unimpeded unless we wanted to abuse the law in the absence of these sections that we are dealing now with in the sunset.

It is an excellent question. It may be that the absence of a scenario reveals that we in Canada just are not able to put together enough evil minds to create that kind of ugly scenario. I hope one never develops.

Scouts CanadaStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Gary Schellenberger Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, through Scouts Canada, young people in my riding, like those across the country, are making enormous contributions to their communities. In the process, they are learning valuable life skills and becoming better citizens.

Although I was not among the founding scouts in 1907, I am proud to have been a member of the first scout troop in my hometown of Sebringville. I can appreciate the positive influence this organization continues to have in shaping young lives.

This year, scouts from across Canada are celebrating their centennial year. I urge all members to pay tribute to their local scout troops and their dedicated volunteers for this important milestone.

New BrunswickStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased that Fredericton was among a delegation of communities from Atlantic Canada to visit Ottawa to advance their priorities and concerns. Their projects remain in limbo because of government inaction.

In my riding, there is Fredericton's proposed convention centre, to which we committed $8 million. While the Conservatives said “me too” in the last election, no progress has been made because they failed to replenish the strategic infrastructure fund.

On the route number 8 Marysville bypass, I am concerned that the government is putting feeder routes on the back burner. The people in Fredericton and Nashwaak Valley cannot wait any longer for this safety issue to be addressed.

We have yet to see a new round of the municipal rural infrastructure fund despite the minister's assurances it would be replenished for New Brunswick by December.

Lastly, victims exposed to agent orange and other herbicides at CFB Gagetown are still waiting for the government to deliver on its promise of full and fair compensation.

This minority government is not getting things done in New Brunswick.

Jean-Paul FilionStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to Jean-Paul Filion.

On February 24, Mr. Filion turned 80 years old. This resident of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, in my riding, is one of the big names in the cultural history of Quebec and Canada. Before singer-songwriters such as Vigneault, Ferland and Leclerc, Mr. Filion was making his mark in the late 1950s. His first album, in 1958, earned him the Grand prix de la chanson canadienne. That same year, his famous song La Parenté sold more than 100,000 copies and made Mr. Filion a well-known songwriter.

The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame recently inducted this song during an evening of tribute, honouring his musical genius and his great contribution to our cultural heritage.

This song, forever etched into the musical memories of an entire generation, resonated deeply with many Quebeckers, especially on New Year's Day.

Happy birthday, Mr. Filion.

Forestry IndustryStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, St. Marys Paper is an important employer in Sault Ste. Marie. Its 400 employees produce paper that is purchased primarily by magazines and large retail companies for high quality advertising flyers and catalogues. Bankruptcy protection means that St. Marys is part of a forestry sector in crises.

When the northern Ontario economy was in trouble before, the NDP government in Ontario stepped up and saved many mills and communities. Fifteen years later we need governments to step up.

It is good news that FedNor will commit to help with the technology upgrade that will make the company more competitive, but much more will be needed, including significant resources and a plan.

The federal government must return to its traditional role of helping to stabilize economies. Pensions must be protected. The government should immediately convene a summit of all stakeholders in the forestry sector to formulate a national recovery plan. This summit should look at trade and monetary policy, research and development, and manpower planning.

Working families are suffering. This crisis cannot be solved without governments doing their part.

Scouts CanadaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario


Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to rise in the House today to recognize Scouts Canada as they celebrate 100 years of services to the young people of our great nation.

The art of teaching life skills is a value unparalleled, because it teaches young people to excel and prosper. Lieutenant-General Baden-Powell's original vision has touched millions of young people. The scouts have used their value-based scouts' promise and law to help build a better world, where people are fulfilled and contribute to society.

Today there are more than 600 youth member scouts able to experience fascinating programs at our very own Camp Samac, a 200-plus acre facility donated by Colonel Sam McLaughlin of Oshawa.

Scouting volunteers are the lifeblood of Scouts Canada and are proud to contribute thousands of hours annually to ensure that youth across Oshawa and Canada receive quality programs that enable youth to experience their full potential.

I ask all parliamentarians to rise today to recognize Scouts Canada's service to our nation and celebrate its centennial year.

Canada Winter GamesStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was thrilled to be at the opening ceremonies of the Canada Winter Games this past weekend in Whitehorse.

It was inspirational to see Larry Smith there as the chair of the Games and Piers McDonald as the president of the host committee. I congratulate them and the 4,100 volunteers who are there in Whitehorse right now helping all the people.

It was inspirational to see those young athletes, who we know will own the podium in 2010 in Vancouver.

It was unfortunate, however, that the sport minister for the federal government was unable to be there in order to hear the committed and urgent pleas by provincial and territorial ministers for sport infrastructure and physical activity infrastructure. That is what we as a government had promised them previously.

FisheriesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, on Friday past, instead of contributing to second reading debate or even taking a position on a new Fisheries Act, the new Liberal fisheries critic moved a hoist amendment.

Why? He said it was to allow further consultation and to answer “so many questions”.

Parliamentary procedure states:

The adoption of a hoist amendment is tantamount to defeating the bill by postponing its consideration. Consequently, the bill disappears from the Order Paper and cannot be introduced again, even after the postponement period has elapsed.

Here is what the Liberal critic intends to prevent: real accountability of a minister to Canadians; giving provinces and fishers a real say in the decisions that affect them; strengthened fish habitat protection; and a fair and deterrent sanctions regime.

The Liberals had 13 years to consult. They just did not get it done. Somehow it is hard to believe they just need another six months.

Sheila Watt-CloutierStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Yvon Lévesque Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to inform this house that Sheila Watt-Cloutier, from Kuujjuaq in northern Quebec, has been nominated for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

This nomination recognizes Ms. Watt-Cloutier's invaluable contribution to social and environmental causes that affect the Inuit and honours her for drawing the world's attention to the impact of climate change and pollution on the traditional way of life of the aboriginal peoples and the Inuit who live in the Arctic and elsewhere.

Ms. Watt-Cloutier, along with 62 Inuit elders, has filed a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, alleging that American greenhouse gas emissions violate the Inuit's environmental and cultural rights.

I want to salute the outstanding work done by this woman, who has made the world's great decision-makers aware of the dangers of global warming, yet has not managed to convince one of the main stakeholders: this government. The Bloc Québécois and I congratulate Ms. Watt-Cloutier on her nomination.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, the cat is out of the bag on the Kyoto protocol. We have learned that when the Liberals were in power, they thought only of their image. What a surprise.

According to the Toronto Star, Eddie Goldenberg, former Prime Minister Chrétien's strategist, has said that the Liberals never really believed it was possible to achieve the Kyoto targets. The Leader of the Opposition was a member of the cabinet at that time, and that is what he himself said in the National Post in July 2006.

Signing the protocol was nothing but a sop to public opinion. Nevertheless, greenhouse gas emissions rose by 28% under the Liberals. What deception.

Unlike the Liberals, our government is not only telling it like it is when it comes to the environment, but taking practical steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the ecoenergy initiative and the Canada EcoTrust program, which have a total envelope of $3.6 billion.

Yes, the Conservatives are thinking globally and acting locally.

So what are the Liberals waiting for to support the clean air and climate change bill?

The Prime MinisterStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker:

One moment it's a cathedral, at another time there [are] no words to describe it when it ceases, for short periods of time, to have any regard for the properties that constitute not only Parliament, but its tradition. I've seen it in all its greatness. I have inwardly wept over it when it is degraded.

Those are the words of former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.

I believe that had Mr. Diefenbaker watched the Prime Minister's attempt to undermine the character of a member of the House last week he would have “inwardly wept”.

Often in life we as human beings in a rash moment may find we have regrets. Our character is found in our ability to admit we were wrong and to apologize. I would hope that given another opportunity today the Prime Minister will apologize for his remarks and aspire to Mr. Diefenbaker's higher ideal.