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House of Commons Hansard #44 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was evidence.

Topics

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, that question is more difficult to answer than one would think initially. I am certain that there are many other things we could do. I believe that five security certificates have been issued since September 11. Five individuals were identified. It seems to me that there are far more bad guys at large and some that are deemed to be quite dangerous. When individuals are considered dangerous, they are watched. Quite frankly, I sometimes have the impression that it would have been far less expensive to have had them under surveillance than to have undertaken all these proceedings against them.

I imagine that if we believe that they are dangerous, we can monitor their phone calls and their relationships. When these people meet to plan a terrorist attack or to plan any crime, they have an agreement and with that agreement there is conspiracy. Thus, we can charge them with conspiracy. The Criminal Code states that an individual about to commit a criminal offence can be arrested without a warrant. We could also avail ourselves of anti-terrorist provisions.

The problem here is that we are dealing with people who cannot be charged with anything. Not only are we unable to find them guilty of any crime, we are unable to charge them with anything. If we could, they would be brought before a court, bail would be set and eventually they could defend themselves, plead not guilty and have the right to a reasonable doubt.

After September 2001, there was panic because dormant cells were discovered involving people who had never been suspects. However, others had been under surveillance. We should have taken action when we realized that there was at least one person who was taking flying lessons but was not interested in the landing procedures. That is when the light should have gone on.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to participate in the third reading debate of Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (certificate and special advocate).

As we know, this legislation deals with the security certificate process that is part of Canada's immigration act. We are debating it tonight because in February 2007, as a result of an action in the Supreme Court, that process was ruled by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional.

In reality, the security certificate process is an expedited deportation process. It is a removal process for people who are considered to have violated immigration law. It is in the immigration law and applies only to permanent residents and visitors, not to Canadian citizens. My sense is that this expedited removal process should be used only for problems with immigration law. It should be used only for immigration purposes.

Unfortunately, that is not how I see it being used. I see it being used as a back door to dealing with issues of terrorism, national security, espionage and organized crime. I see it as a lesser mechanism for dealing with problems of our criminal justice system that we cannot get at with the Criminal Code, or that we apparently cannot get at, because I am not convinced that is in fact the reality of the situation.

I see this as a very deeply flawed process. It allows for indefinite detention without charge, without trial or without conviction for people who are accused of terrorism, espionage, threats to Canadian security, or participation in organized crime. Again, I want to stress that this is not a process that results in a charge or a trial or a conviction, but it does allow someone to be detained indefinitely on the suspicion of those serious crimes.

It denies the person accused, the person named, the person detained, a fair hearing. It means that such persons do not have the usual access to some of the principles and safeguards of our criminal justice system. There is a lower standard of proof in these security certificate cases. The accusations against the person do not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, as they would in a criminal court. It is a lesser burden of proof on the balance of probabilities and I think that is a very serious flaw with the process as well.

It is hard for the accused to test the evidence against them, partly because they or their lawyer do not know all of the evidence against them so the usual rules about how we would test evidence presented in court do not apply in these cases. It is a very serious matter, I think, that all the evidence is not available to the accused and their lawyer.

Another serious flaw with this process is that it could allow deportation to torture or persecution in another country. That is a very serious problem and it is indeed probably why a number of these people are still here. The government will consistently point out that these people are free to leave Canada at any time. While that is true, it really begs the question of what is possible for people who have been accused of these very serious crimes, who have been accused of terrorism but have never been shown to be guilty of that terrible crime.

They do not have any options in terms of actually leaving Canada after that kind of accusation has been levelled, especially given some of the countries they are from, where we know if they were returned they would most certainly be imprisoned and they might also face torture, because many of those jurisdictions do regularly practise torture. They might even face death.

When people say that we need to maintain this security certificate process as a way of dealing with accusations of terrorism, I cannot agree, because I believe that it is a very serious compromise of our criminal justice system. It compromises some very hard won principles of our justice system.

We are dealing here with some of the most serious accusations, some of the most serious charges, that could be levelled against anyone in our society, accusations of terrorism, espionage, security threats or organized crime. I cannot think of many criminal activities that would be judged more serious by Canadians.

Unfortunately, the goal of the security certificate is merely to get people out of the country. Its goal is not to charge and convict them of those crimes or to punish them for those crimes. It is merely to see that they are not around here any longer.

There is no attempt to make sure that people would be charged and there is also no attempt to ensure that they would be charged in their country of origin. It is not like an extradition process where we are extraditing them to their home country or another jurisdiction where they would face a charge or trial for these serious crimes.

In a sense, it lets somebody who is accused of very serious criminality off the hook if they agree to leave the country. It does not allow for any punishment or any proof of a very serious crime.

I do not think security certificates make Canada or Canadians any safer. I do not think it deals with these very serious criminal matters. Crimes that should be prosecuted are crimes related to terrorism and national security.

If there are problems with our Criminal Code that make it impossible to charge these people, then we should be addressing those problems, not relying on some lesser mechanism in the immigration law to indefinitely incarcerate them and put them in a position of removing themselves voluntarily. That is a problematic way to approach these very serious crimes.

This afternoon the parliamentary secretary noted in debate, and I think he was touting this as a virtue of the legislation, that in the past year someone who had been accused of industrial espionage had voluntarily left Canada. It seems to me that the charge of industrial espionage, or espionage of any kind, is a very serious criminal matter. Why that person was allowed to leave and never charged, or sent to trial and convicted and punished for that kind of crime, is really beyond me.

It seems to me that we actually could be tougher on crime in that sense by ensuring that those very serious crimes are prosecuted here in Canada. If there is a problem with our Criminal Code that does not allow that to happen, then we should be fixing that problem rather than relying on some lesser mechanism to get at that person.

Most Canadians that I have spoken with are shocked to know that indefinite detention without trial can happen in Canada, but that has been happening under the terms of these security certificates. That is a significant and untenable compromise of our criminal justice system, and that opinion is shared by many Canadians.

People just cannot believe that we would put individuals in jail indefinitely, having never charged or convicted them in a court of law. That seems beyond the pale for most Canadians.

We have heard a number of times that there are six people currently subject to security certificates in Canada. I think security certificates have been used about 28 times since the process was included in our immigration law. Five of those people have been served with certificates since September 11, 2001. Those men are Hassan Almrei, Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah, Mohamed Harkat and Adil Charkaoui. All of these men happen to be Muslim and Arab men, which also causes me some great concern.

I want to talk a bit about what this security certificate process has meant to the people who are subject to them right now and I want to start by talking about the situation of Hassan Almrei.

Mr. Almrei has been in detention since just after September 11, 2001. He is currently being held at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre, which was purposely built to hold security certificate detainees. It is a maximum security facility actually within the grounds of Millhaven maximum security federal penitentiary. Mr. Almrei is the only one of the five who is still in jail and is in his seventh year of detention. This detention centre was built to hold up to six prisoners and Mr. Almrei is currently the only one being held there.

The course of Mr. Almrei's detention has been fraught with serious problems that I think would offend many Canadians. For instance, when he was held at the Metro West Detention Centre in Toronto before the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre was built, Mr. Almrei actually had to go on a hunger strike to obtain a pair of shoes.

Those were the kinds of conditions under which he was being held. He was not even allowed a pair of shoes. He ended up on a hunger strike for many days to obtain a pair of shoes. I think that would be unacceptable to most Canadians. Yet, that has been a constant feature of Mr. Almrei's struggle while detained on this security certificate.

Last year he was on a hunger strike for 156 days. He drank nothing but water and orange juice. It is hard to imagine anyone surviving for that length of time on a hunger strike. It was very precarious at the end and many of us were very concerned for Mr. Almrei's life.

Again, he was on the hunger strike to protest the conditions of his imprisonment, not the overall problem of security certificates but the specific conditions at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre under which he was being held. That someone would have to go to that extent, to risk his life to protest the conditions of his detention, is very serious, especially when the person has never been charged or convicted of a crime in Canada.

At KIHC there is no programming for the people detained there. Unlike a federal penitentiary, where there are many options for people who are incarcerated there, there is nothing available to a security certificate detainee, nothing available to Mr. Almrei.

I am also very concerned about the fact that Mr. Almrei is the only prisoner at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre. I believe that this is an issue of solitary confinement. I think it would shock most Canadians that some people could be held alone in a jail for almost a year all by themselves. There are serious implications from that.

This past December in Istanbul an international group of experts on solitary confinement and incarceration met to discuss the issue of solitary confinement. They mentioned a number of very serious issues that have to be considered and Mr. Almrei's situation corresponds to a number of those, issues like no regular social contact. The reality is that at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre Mr. Almrei has no social contact with anyone other than guards, who most of the time are unwilling to engage him socially. They watch him.

The kind of psychological pressure that kind of situation puts on someone for an extended period of time is extremely serious and I think I am backed by the international experts. Mr. Almrei has no family in Canada, so he does not receive regular visits from people with whom he has a strong personal and loving relationship. It has often seemed to me that the intent of his incarceration and the conditions under which he is held are intended to force him to make the decision to leave Canada voluntarily. That also has very serious implications.

I will quote a sentence from the statement that these experts made in Istanbul back in December. They said, “When isolation regimes are intentionally used to apply psychological pressure on prisoners, such practices become coercive and should be absolutely prohibited”.

In the sense of this three walled prison, the conditions are very difficult and the social contacts are very limited. The only option is to say, “I give up and I want to leave”.

As my colleague from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin mentioned earlier, it is not really a three walled prison. It is a prison with three walls and a huge cliff because we know what the dangers are if he decides to leave Canada and return to Syria. It would mean almost certainly that he would be jailed, tortured and possibly even put to death. That is just not an option. By limiting that, we are adding to the conditions around solitary confinement that make this a very serious concern.

The other thing I wanted to mention about Mr. Almrei's situation is the fact that he is still in detention indefinitely is related to the fact that he has no relatives in Canada. The other four men who have been detained from time to time have been released because they have a relative, generally a spouse, who is willing to act as their jailer on behalf of Canada. They are willing to be with that person 24 hours a day, to know their whereabouts at all times, and to be present with them at all times.

Unfortunately, Mr. Almrei has no spouse, so he has no one who is willing to take that responsibility of behalf of Canadian society. There have been other people from the community who have been willing to offer some kind of arrangement with regard to this, but the courts have not seen fit to allow that to happen.

That is a huge problem. The fact that someone has remained in jail and detained indefinitely in solitary confinement, essentially, in this purpose built correctional institution, this purpose built detention centre, and the only reason he is still there is that he does not have a relative who is willing to act as his jailer outside of that institution.

I think the effect on the other people who have been released is also very significant because being out on the kind of release conditions that the other four men are subject to is no picnic, to put it mildly. These are the most strict release conditions ever in Canadian history.

As I mentioned earlier, they are all required to be supervised by a family member 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without exception and often by the same family member, or one or two family members. So, it is a very limited number of people who can do that. Their ability to leave their homes is limited.

They are wearing ankle bracelets and global positioning devices. Some of them have cameras in their homes where they can be monitored that way. Their trips outside of the house, the time of that, is very limited, but they all have to be pre-approved, as do visits from people, who have to be screened before they can be allowed to visit.

This puts huge stress on families. It puts huge stress on the spouses of these men and on their children. I think it is a tribute to the strength of the relationships in those families, to the strength of the relationships between those men and their spouses, that those relationships have held up under these terrible conditions.

I do not think any of us can imagine having to spend 24 hours a day with our spouse or to have our spouse take the kind of jailer responsibility over us that these spouses have been required under the law. I think that we need to recognize the strength of those relationships that they still continue.

Again, I just want to stress that this is all happening to men who have never been charged and never been convicted of a crime. It is hard to believe that this is going on here in Canada.

This legislation supposedly presented us with a fix, a special advocate, a lawyer appointed by the court, who would be allowed to see more of the evidence and act on behalf of the security certificate detainee. I do not think that is a fix. I think it amounts to nothing more than tinkering with very flawed legislation.

We have had similar systems in place in other countries, like the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Some of the special advocates in the United Kingdom actually quit their jobs because they could not countenance continuing to participate in that process in that same way. In fact, one of them said that the special advocacy process merely added a fig leaf of respectability to a very flawed process.

It also flies in the face of one of the key principles of our justice system in that people should be able to choose their own lawyer and have someone representing them in these matters they have chosen and they trust.

I think it is very interesting that the federal government in anticipation, I hope premature, of the passage of this legislation has been trying to find lawyers who are willing to act as special advocates and has only had about 50 applications, and has had to extend the application period.

I think that goes to the fact that many lawyers in Canada, if not most lawyers in Canada, appreciate the difficulties of this legislation, appreciate the difficulty of the role of a special advocate, and do not support that kind of arrange.

I think we could have done a much better job of addressing the problems that are presented by the concerns around terrorism, security threats to Canadian society, espionage and organized crime. I do not think it is appropriate to use this lesser immigration procedure to deal with these very serious criminal matters.

I believe these people, if they have committed these crimes, they should be charged criminally, they should be tried in a criminal court and have the usual protections of a criminal court. We have a process in our criminal court that can deal with issues of national security and problems associated with evidence around national security. We should be using that process, not this lesser immigration process, to deal with these very serious matters. Indeed, there are not more serious criminal matters that we could deal with in our society.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

8 p.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the remarks of my colleague from Burnaby—Douglas were thoughtful. He is very passionate about human rights. I know for him it is very important to speak on this issue.

I agree with much of what he has said about the bill. It seems to circumvent the criminal justice system, which the Supreme Court decided was unconstitutional and a violation of human rights.

With that in mind, I have received many emails, letters and phone calls from constituents. I have one from a young woman who is very concerned about the proposed special advocate model. She says that it does not provide guarantees for a fair trial and it allows individuals to be deported to countries where they face serious risk of torture. She also says that any process to respond to individuals who are accused of being a threat to the security of Canada must conform to international human rights principles. My constituent has asked me to please vote against the bill.

She adds some points that were put forward by Amnesty International. These are human rights principles to guide the immigration security certificate reform. Could my hon. colleague from Burnaby—Douglas comment on some of the things contained within those principles, such as no complicity and torture, or other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, no impunity?

Does my colleague agree that criminal proceedings should be in Canada when removal or transfer is not possible? Does he agree that disguised extradition, equal fairness, full answer in defence and injury to international relations is no excuse and detention is a last resort?

He talked about Mr. Almrei. I know my colleague has him visited in the Kingston centre. One of the things says about detention as a last resort is:

In immigration-based security procedures detention must be the last resort. Detention is justified only where the application of other less intrusive measures have been fully considered and rejected by the state. Where affected persons have been detained, that detention must be subject to fair, prompt and regular review by an independent and impartial court. Immigration detention should not be prolonged and can never be indefinite.

I am concerned that Mr. Almrei's detention seems to be indefinite because he does not fit the model that we have prescribed on him. Would my colleague comment on some of those things?

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

8:05 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's constituent raises some very crucial points. The whole issue of deportation to face torture, death or persecution is a very serious one. Canada has obligations under international treaties, to which we are signatories, that we would never participate in this kind of practice.

Unfortunately, this security certificate process does not preclude that possibility. There have been decisions in our judicial system that also do not preclude that possibility, with which I take very serious issue. I do not believe there is ever an excuse for deporting someone to face that kind of circumstance. It is a very serious problem with the security certificate process.

I also think the use of evidence that has been obtained by torture is a significant problem with the security certificate process. I do not think we have strong assurances or strong ways of testing when we have these flaws about how we test the evidence in the security certificate process, when we have this lower standard of evidence in the security certificate process.

I am not one, frankly, after given the experience of Canadians such as Maher Arar and others, who trusts the kinds of intelligence information that we get whole hog. I would not go all the way to say that it is always trustworthy. I certainly would not always believe it is obtained in the most prudent and appropriate ways that respect human rights around the world.

I know we have probably received information that was obtained through torture. That is a very serious problem. That should never be admissible in a Canadian court and under Canadian law. When someone is tortured, they will say almost anything to end the torture. This is another very serious problem with this process and with the kind of compromises the legislation and the process seem to set us up for when we do not respect the principles and the long-standing traditions of our criminal justice system.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

8:05 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think I will be the last person to address the House tonight on Bill C-3. For me, this brings to an end, given what we anticipate the vote will be tomorrow by the Conservatives and the Liberals, a phase of fighting the security certificates and the use of those documents and that procedure in our jurisdiction in Canada.

On behalf of myself and my party, we are vehemently opposed to the use of this device. We have been for a very long period of time. This device is so fundamentally against the values of our criminal justice system, the values that we hold, I thought sacred, around human rights and civil liberties.

This process, this device puts a lie to the proud tradition that we have had in the country, of working, anticipating maybe never to get to perfection, toward respecting human rights.

We have historically had abuses: the War Measures Act; the way we treated the Japanese Canadians during the second world war and members from the Italian and Germany communities as well in both the first and the second world war; and some of the treatment we have had with regard to the Jewish community and the Sikh community.

Historically, every time we go back and look at this, we have always done that abuse. We broke away from our core values as a populace because we were afraid. We acted in fear and panic. When I say we, I do not mean the Canadian people so much as I mean legislators, the policy-makers, the decision makers.

The invocation of the War Measures Act in 1970 was a classic of that. So was the decision in 1939 to move the Japanese Canadians away from their homes, their businesses, incarcerate them for the whole war and take away all their assets.

The security certificates are a continuation of that kind of fear and panic by the decision makers. The House will repeat that same kind of sordid decision making tomorrow. We are doing it not because we need to do it, because we do not. We are doing it because we are afraid. We think the war on terrorism can only be fought, can only be won, by using this type of a device.

The first step we take down that road we have failed, we have lost the war. We are saying to those people, who would use criminal conduct, violent acts, to gain a political end is that if they threaten us with that, we are going to give up our values. We are going to give up the protections. We are going to give up our respect for human rights and the protection of civil liberties in the country.

Thirty-odd years ago we brought this in. In many respects, if we go back and study what happened at that time, we brought this in because it was more convenient to use this device to get people out of the country. Security certificates can only be used against people who are not Canadian citizens. Again, it was a very bad decision, justifying the use of these devices for the sake of convenience, to make it a little easier to get people out of the country. As so often happens, when we make those kind of bad decisions, we do not see the unintended consequences.

If we study the 20-odd certificates that we used against people until 9/11, we could argue there was no substantial abuse. There were a couple of notorious cases that worked their way all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada. However, we could salve our consciences and say that nobody was badly hurt most of the time when we used it, if the people left the country voluntarily.

One of the cases was before 9/11, but six more came after. It was coupled with the reality of the Supreme Court of Canada making the crucial decision. It said that people could not be deported to their country of origin if there were a reasonable apprehension of torture or death or risk to their personal safety. That case came down shortly before 9/11 and after that we decided to use the certificates more extensively.

This again is one of the shames. Inasmuch as neither the former Liberal administration or the current Conservative administration would like to acknowledge this, we use them exclusively, with one exception, against the Muslim population in our country. It is not a coincidence. We are running in fear because of all the paranoia we hear from the U.S. We succumbed to that fear and that pressure from the Americans and we used these certificates in these five or six cases.

Again, 10 or 20 years from now, when historians look back at this timeframe, they will say “much as we did after 1970”. The administration, first the Liberals and now the Conservatives, did not have the courage to stand and say that our essential values as a country were stronger than any violence with which we were threatened. We can withstand that without giving up our civil liberties and our human rights.

What do we see happening with those unintended consequences? It ended up as five cases. Because of the Supreme Court of Canada decision, we invoke the terms of that order and the applications are made consistently through our courts. We cannot send the individuals back even though they do not know what they are charged with or accused of. They cannot be sent back because there is a risk they will be tortured and put to death. Those cases are still being fought in the courts. Our justice department and security services are fighting them on behalf of the government. Individuals and their counsel are fighting them the other way.

The bottom line is we have been caught. Those certificates are unable to do the job. We cannot get them out of the country and we are left with this in our hands. We are left with the abuse. It is very clear to anyone who comes from any kind of a civil liberties, human rights background looking at this objectively. The system is wrong and it is not working. It is not even effective.

As a society, as the government, we are left having to deal with those five cases, people in custody for indefinite periods of time, not charged and not aware of what the allegations are against them in the vast majority of cases. Therefore, we are left with this situation and there is no end to this.

I want to go back to the Suresh case, which went to the Supreme Court of Canada. It has been going on for 20 years. He is an individual who is not from a Muslim background. A determination was that he could not be sent back to his country. He was ultimately released after many years. He is still subject to it. He is living in our country and for almost 20 years he has posed no threat to us. He has certainly not accomplished any violence in the country whatsoever.

That is one of the older cases, but we have these other cases sitting here. People who have been incarcerated are now out, with the exception, as my colleague mentioned, of the one who is still in prison in Kingston. But all the rest who are out are living under very difficult circumstances, again with no hope, either by them or by us, that is, the government, that it is ever going to be resolved. It is just going to be an indefinite incarceration with no end in sight, ever.

That is the unintended consequence. It is so typical. When we go to that extreme, which is what I see security certificates being, of undermining those basic values that all Canadians believe in, then, in a fear and a panic, we say that we are going to compromise.

We hear all the time that we have to find a balance. The problem when we make the decisions is that the balance is always on the side of restricting rights and in fact we do not find that balance, because again, we do not have the courage to believe in the fundamental values, those rights that we have built since the start of this country and even preceding it, going back into the history that we have from our two founding nations, those rights that we built all through that period of time up to the present. If we do not believe in them, if we do not act on them and if we do not protect them, then it is downhill.

We are going to be faced in the next little while with another attempt. That is part of the problem with the security certificates. It opens the door to us further impinging on our civil liberties. We are going to see, I think some time in the next little while, the government attempting to reinstate some provisions of the anti-terrorism legislation that died about a year ago. It is going to attempt to reinstate them. It will be interesting to see if the official opposition supports that. I think it probably will, with some modification.

But that again, coming back to the certificates, leads us down that path. When we say, as we do with the certificates, that people are not entitled to know the charges against them and that their lawyers are not entitled to know the charges against them, they are sitting there, as with Kafka, having absolutely no ability to defend themselves.

In that regard, it is worthwhile pointing out the experience in England and New Zealand, particularly in England, where they brought in special advocates. The government is proposing to do it here in a very minimalist form compared to that in England. Even then, we had the special advocates quitting. These were lawyers who were extremely experienced, with 20 and 30 years at the bar, mostly in the criminal law area and some in the immigration law area. Even with provisions in their law that were much broader and gave them more authority to be able to defend an individual, even under those circumstances, they quit.

I remember one in particular, Ian Macdonald, writing a very eloquent resignation letter and almost I think apologetically saying that he did this for a number of years, that he was hoping he could make the system work, that is, he was hoping that he could provide protection but make the system work, to advocate on behalf of his client at one remove but be able to do that. Then again, almost apologetically, he was saying that he was wrong, the system cannot be made to work, and he cannot be a real advocate to protect the rights of an individual faced with this procedure.

We have seen similar types of situations in New Zealand. We have seen the commentary from the special advocates there, who were saying that if people did not let them see the evidence and if people did not let them discuss what they did see of the evidence with the person alleged to have perpetrated these crimes, there was nothing they could do, because they could not realistically defend them. That is the reality.

This bill is doubly bad. There was a report by two people, a law professor and a practising lawyer. I have it in front of me. It was a very lengthy report and analysis of special advocacy around the world. In this report, the two authors made a number of recommendations.

With regard to special advocates, I know that both of them were reluctant to suggest that we go that route, but that if we are going to do it, they said, we have to build in all of these protections. We have to give this mandate to the special advocate. We have to provide him or her with these resources. We have to say that he or she is going to have access to the evidence and be able, in most cases, to discuss that evidence.

There is a whole long list of suggestions in the report, but in Bill C-3, the government, supported by the official opposition, adopted hardly any of them. The reason is that it does not want these certificates to be impinged on whatsoever. It wants to be able to use them in their full force. Again, we have heard about the kind of treatment that the people who are subject to these certificates are put through, whether they are in custody or out and living under various forms of house arrest with severe restrictions on their mobility.

There was no intention on the part of the government to really meet the decision it was faced with almost a year ago from the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada said that with the certificates as they are, the system is contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and in a free and democratic society, it said, it cannot be resolved that way either. It applied both parts of the charter and said that this system does infringe, and no, it cannot be resolved by article 1 of the charter.

A band-aid approach was applied here and it was a minimalist band-aid. I have no doubt in saying while standing in the House--and I rarely do this--that I know that probably within days of this law receiving royal assent it will be challenged again, and it will work itself all the way back to the Supreme Court of Canada.

I am hoping, and I have to say that I am expecting, based on the decision a year ago, that the Supreme Court of Canada will strike this bill down again. Hopefully at that point it will say to the government that the government was given a chance, but that this time the certificates are gone and there is no chance to correct them. Hopefully it will say to the government that it has to use the regular criminal justice system and immigration law to resolve issues that these individuals present to the authorities in this country.

It is the responsibility of this legislature to have paid attention to that Supreme Court of Canada decision and we are not doing it with Bill C-3. When the Supreme Court hears the evidence of how it functions and, more importantly, how it does not function in terms of protecting human rights and civil liberties, I have a very strong belief that it will strike this down.

We will have gone through this process, we will have put those individuals through all that pain, and at the end of the day the certificates will be struck down from our law. I cannot wait for that day.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague from Windsor—Tecumseh, and I too will be voting against the bill.

As I said earlier, I have been getting a lot of calls, letters and emails from my constituents and I know that other members have been hearing from their constituents as well. This tells me that Canadians are very concerned about this piece of legislation and they do not want to see it go forward.

Canadians are concerned about human rights. They want the government to protect human rights not just for Canadians who live here, but for people from other countries who want to live here as well.

These are some of the things Canadians have said in their letters: “The answer lies not in taking away freedoms and the rule of law, but enforcing the law as it currently stands. We have laws to prosecute criminals who create acts of wanton terror and mass murder without creating a special set of secret judicial processes to bring them to justice. Please think about this bill carefully before you vote and decide if it is really in the best interest of Canadians to create a system for us and a system for the rest”.

That is something we need to think about very strongly. Why are there two classes of people? Why are we creating another class of people in this country by putting in place a piece of legislation that would violate the Canadian Human Rights Act, and something that the Supreme Court of Canada has decided against, something that circumvents the criminal justice system?

People have likened this to what happened in the past in the second world war with Japanese people who were living in Canada. I know that story very well because my partner is Japanese and his parents were interred in the interior of British Columbia. I also come from a community that had a lot of Japanese people working in a mill there and they were all removed from the community. Many of them were friends of my mother. She has reconnected with those people. They have told us very sad stories. I would hate to see anything like that ever happen again in this country. It is these things that I want to remind people about when we are voting on legislation like this.

I wonder if my colleague could add some more comments on those points.

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8:30 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if it is possible to appreciate just how offensive this legislation and the practice of the use of these certificates is unless a person is one of the targeted groups.

We can talk to the children and grandchildren of people who were removed, we can talk to those individuals who were incarcerated when the War Measures Act was applied to them in 1970. I have talked with people from the Muslim community and to some degree the Sikh community. They are feeling most vulnerable because their family and friends are still newcomers to this country and could still be subject to one of these certificates. They are sometimes targeted by the country they came from, information is passed to our security people, and they end up being investigated. As my colleague mentioned earlier, so much of that evidence comes from torture.

Those people have to live under a cloud. They are newcomers and they want to speak out but they have a fear of speaking out. There is a chill affecting those communities because of the availability of this kind of device. I do not think people really appreciate that unless they happen to be one of the targeted groups. I will not say that I fully appreciate it. As long as we have this kind of law on the books, people will live under that fear and that chill. It is not good for democracy.

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8:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Is the House ready for the question?

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8:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

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NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

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

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8:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

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8:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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8:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

All those opposed will please say nay.

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8:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

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8:30 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the vote be deferred until 3 o'clock tomorrow.

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8:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

There has been a request that this vote be deferred until 3 o'clock tomorrow. It is a proper request, and so ordered.

It being 8:33 p.m., pursuant to order made on Thursday, January 31, 2008, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 8:33 p.m.)