House of Commons Hansard #66 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was funding.


Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.


Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Madam Speaker, this is indeed an important matter on which to speak.

I expressed some of my frustration in the question, and perhaps I will come back to it for a moment. If we go back to 2007, when we were considering this whole matter, it was our party, along with other opposition parties, that said we needed to work collaboratively and as quickly as possible to find solutions to ensure that police had appropriate powers but that we struck the right balance.

At the time, the government was all over us saying that if action was not taken immediately, the end was nigh and this would open the doors to all kinds of threats. It attacked us for even daring to ask questions or suggest that the matter needed to be studied appropriately.

Immediately, after the hue and cry about the urgency of how important it was, it disappeared from the radar. Off it went for a long period of time until it suddenly became enormously urgent again when the government re-introduced it in March 2009, again with much fanfare, saying that this was incredibly urgent. Two years had passed and it had done nothing, but suddenly now it was deeply urgent and a matter of national security that we did something immediately and with next to no debate.

Then the government forgot about it again for a while. We debated it in June. We ended up having a prorogation, which killed that bill and many others, and off it languished yet again.

Here we are some three years later, dealing with this bill. Again the government tells us it is urgent, essential and must be dealt with immediately. It just does not wash. It would appear the government is using the timing of the bill more as a distraction than having any genuine interest in getting something done. The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security should have been looking at this issue years ago and having detailed indepth conversations, which we were told we did not have the time to have.

This is a fundamental problem I have with the government. It raises an issue that it says is of such urgency and no one can ask any questions. It wants to ram it through and does not want us to ask any questions. It even questions our patriotism if we ask questions as if somehow we are soft on terror because we want to strike the appropriate balance. Yet the government takes three years on the very same thing that it said was so urgent. All we asked for a few months to have expert witnesses in front of a committee to ensure we got it right.

Why is it important that we get it right? There is such an important balance between collective security on the one hand and individual freedom on the other. On the one hand, every one of us, down to every last single Canadian, wants to ensure that if there is something that puts the country in immediate peril, the police officers have every reasonable tool at their disposal to dispose of that threat safely, to ensure that public safety is maintained and that collective order is preserved.

Of course we want police officers to have those tools, but we want to ensure they are only used in the most extraordinary of circumstances with the most rigorous of oversight and that it is never abused.

This leads us to the second point. This whole process of standing in Parliament, of asking questions, of having committees is about a process of protecting those individual freedoms as well, ensuring we do not go so far in the name of collective security that we erase our right as individuals to have freedoms.

Is that not the thing terrorism looks to erase in the first place? Is it not the very fundamental thing it is looking to destroy?

If we accept provisions without caution and we end up going too far, then we have situations like we had with Maher Arar, or Mr. Nureddin, or Mr. Almalki or Mr. Abou-Elmaati, individuals who got caught up in a system that went too far, that cut too many corners when it came to intelligence and ended up destroying the lives of innocent citizens.

When we have this debate, let us have it rationally, let us have it carefully and ensure we get it right. I certainly hope it is going to finally come to committee and that this is not just another opportunity to obfuscate and distract.

In that regard, when the justice minister congratulates the House leader, I am decidedly less optimistic that the reason it is before us today is because the government is suddenly excited for renewed action. I think it has a lot more to do with a very bad summer.

It is important to talk about from where the bill and the provisions came.

After 9/11, the Liberal government passed the Anti-terrorism Act, the package of measures, including Criminal Code amendments, to combat terrorism and terrorist activity. The act attempted to balance those measures with respect for Canadian values, fairness and human rights. Two new powers in the act, investigative hearings and preventive arrests, were considered sufficiently intrusive and extraordinary that a specific five year sunset clause was applied to them alone. The sunset clause was a Liberal caucus priority.

In October 2006, a subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security recommended extending the sunset clause, while also amending the Criminal Code to restrict the scope and application of investigative hearings and preventive arrest. The sunset clause came due on March 1, 2007. The Conservative government then introduced a motion to extend the provisions for a further five years, but in February 2007, the Liberal opposition, as well as the Bloc and the NDP, voted to allow clauses on investigative hearings and preventive arrests contained in the original Anti-terrorism Act, brought forward in the immediate aftermath of September 11, to sunset.

At the time, Liberal opposition offered to work with the Conservative government to find reasonable and effective improvements to anti-terrorism laws that would strike an appropriate balance between safety and protection of rights. After the defeat of the clauses, the government introduced legislation in October 2007 that would have brought back the two clauses with additional safeguards. It required law enforcement officers to satisfy a judge that they had used every other method to get information that they needed. It also required the attorney general and minister of public safety and emergency preparedness to report to Parliament on a yearly basis, explaining their opinion as to whether these provisions should be further extended.

It is important to note that most of these additional items that came forward were as a result of the Senate, and particularly Liberal senators who sought to improve the protection of individual freedoms in this matter. Most of those recommendations were contained in Bill S-3.

I will run through some of the important highlights of the improvements that were suggested to get the right balance: first, an increased emphasis on the need for the judge to be satisfied, as a mentioned before, that law enforcement had taken all reasonable other steps; second, the ability for a person ordered to attend an investigative hearing to retain and instruct counsel, something that previously had not been in place; third, new reporting requirements for the attorney general and the minister of public safety, who must now submit annual reports which not only list the uses of these provisions, but also provide an option supported by reasons as to whether these powers need to be maintained; fourth, the flexibility to have any provincial court judge hear a case regarding a preventive arrest; and last, a five year end date, unless both Houses of Parliament resolved to extend the provisions further.

I do not accept the argument that is posited by some that because these provisions have not been used with great frequency, that they do not have purpose. We have to be cautious to dismiss this just for that reason. There has to be a lot more than that. Clearly, these clauses should only be used in extremely extraordinary situations and we would expect and hope that if they were used, it would be an extremely rare occurrence. That unto itself is not enough to not support the bill.

I am, however, concerned with a couple of items and I they are items that we will have to explore at committee. One is oversight. We have to look at whether or not once every five years is an appropriate length of time under which to review this. We also have to look at the provision that would only have one of the Houses of Parliament review the bill.

We saw in this case, after the sunset clauses came, that the Senate did great work and was able to be very instructive with a number of recommendations that are now a key part of the bill and a key part of the debate. I would suggest that a review, perhaps, by both Houses of Parliament would also be appropriate.

I am concerned as well about the broader issue of oversight and particularly with how intelligence oversight is left right now. It would be inappropriate to have this debate without mentioning the fact that the government has completely ignored most of the key recommendations that came from Justice O'Connor, which were supported by Justice Iacobucci and were repeated by the RCMP Public Complaints Commissioner before he was let go because he criticized and did a good job. That is what the Conservatives do with people who do a good job of criticizing. These recommendations were repeated over and over again, saying that our security and intelligence services did not have adequate oversight, that it had led to major mistakes and that there was an incredible need to reform them.

If we are going to proceed with giving additional powers on the one hand, how can we proceed without dealing with these problems of oversight? Just as an example, the RCMP public complaints commissioner, Paul Kennedy, and again, he was the public complaints commissioner, issued a great number of concerns about the fact that he could only investigate something if there was a complaint made to him. If he had concerns, he could not proactively investigate. If he wanted to get information, he could not compel that information. He could sort of ask, pretty please, for that information to be granted to him. If it moved outside of the RCMP, since most things involving intelligence are multi-agency and therefore involve many different departments, there was no ability for him to track that bouncing ball as it moved through different departments.

There were a number of recommendations I mentioned that said that we have to fix this. We have to make sure that when we have oversight, there are no dark corners we cannot look into. There has been a further recommendation that we need to make sure that we have a committee of parliamentarians that is empowered to look at documents and information to make sure that the law is being upheld and that individual freedoms are being respected. That, right now, unfortunately, has also been ignored by the government.

These recommendations, by the way, were not made last week. In some cases, they go back four years or slightly longer, which is almost since the inception of the present government. It is not that the government came forward and said that it disagreed with them and that these were bad ideas. No, in fact, the government came forward and said that it agreed and would implement them immediately. Apparently we have a different definition of immediately. Immediately for me would have been four years ago. For the government, it is apparently just a tactic to stall and to put off forever.

However, certainly at committee, and now, we have to demand that change in oversight. We cannot have agencies such as Citizenship and Immigration Canada or the Canada Border Services Agency, for example, that have absolutely no oversight whatsoever and continue to talk about granting new powers in the absence of fixing those problems.

The other issue I am concerned about that is important to mention is that the government will have to understand that the Canadian public and Parliament have a tough time trusting when it comes to matters of security and intelligence. Conservatives might have got away at the beginning, when they were a new government, as they called themselves, with people taking them at their word, “don't worry, we have things covered”. However, simply mentioning the words “terror” or “security” does not give them a free pass, not anymore, because we have caught them too many times when they have been less than direct with Parliament about what the facts are.

A specific example, as we know, is when Mr. Colvin came forward with concerns about the way detainees were treated in Afghanistan. Instead of turning and looking at those and having a proper investigation of what he raised as issues, the Conservatives attacked his personal credibility and attacked him personally. They then followed that up by trying to shut down Parliament's ability to take a look at the documents. It came to such a point that there was a crisis in the House, something that had to be determined by the Speaker. There was the whole Westminster system of parliamentary democracy he was looking at to rule on the fundamental right of Parliament to know the truth, to look at documents, and to demand information. Fortunately, the power of Parliament was upheld, but the very fact that the government would try to close down access to that information is deeply concerning.

When the government asks for more powers, to let it have more ability to do things without scrutiny and to just trust it, it will have to understand that there is a great deal of reticence to do so because of that history. There is a great deal of disbelief that it will fix the problem of oversight, because the pattern, as I mentioned earlier, and I am going to go through it specifically now, has not been to respond to thoughtful criticism with thoughtful answers or with review and reconsideration. It has been to go on the attack, to fire, to discredit, and to try to obliterate opponents as opposed to trying to actually respond to their concerns.

We saw Linda Keen, of the Nuclear Safety Commission, who came forward and expressed a number of concerns and disagreed with the way the government was proceeding. She found herself fired. I mentioned Paul Kennedy, someone who did his job with tenacity. I think anyone would have a tough time criticizing the work he did. He was critical of the government, because he kept pushing the Conservatives to make changes that he knew had to be made, reforms such those in the Brown report, which came out of the RCMP pension scandal, or the recommendations dealing with tasers that came from the disaster that happened with Mr. Dziekanski.

They were ignored. In fact, not only did they ignore him, but when he became more vocal and more concerned and more passionate in his plea to have something done, he was fired.

The victims ombudsman, who came forward and said that the government's approach to crime is unbalanced, will not work for victims, and is the wrong approach, found himself fired.

The military ombudsman spoke out on behalf of military men and women and criticized the government. The government often lauds what it supposedly does for the military, yet we had a military ombudsman criticizing it and saying that changes are needed, that there are things that are grossly unfair. People who are coming back from serving their country are not being treated fairly. The government responded by firing that individual. The public complaints commissioner for the military was also fired.

We know that Marty Cheliak, who was head of the Canadian firearms program, went across the country passionately speaking about how the gun registry saves lives, how it is an essential tool for police. He was pleading with the government not to destroy it, not on a partisan basis but on a basis of fact and truth. He was fired, gotten rid of.

Therefore, I am sure that the Conservatives can understand why opposition members and Canadians are reticent to just hand over new powers to them, carte blanche, and trust them. We do not, and those are some of the very many reasons why.

There is an issue, though, beyond trust and the way the government tries to hide things and fires people or discredits, attacks, and maligns those who would have the courage to speak truth to it. It is also a function of incompetence.

One can look at how it has handled other matters that dealt with security. Let us take the G8 and G20. Here was an opportunity for Canada to host the world. It was at a time when the meetings were going to be on austerity, on the need to rein in spending, on the need to find a way to deal with an international debt crisis. It certainly would have been a great opportunity to show leadership, to hold the meetings in a place that was easy to secure and to make sure that the meeting costs were toned down and that the focus was on policy and substance.

Instead, the government first tried to shove the entire thing into a cabinet minister's riding where it would not fit, and then it realized that it could not possibly manage it. The government then split it in half and tossed half to Toronto, basically telling Toronto, seconds before it was dumped on it, “You are going to be hosting world leaders in a downtown core in a security nightmare. Good luck to you”.

The government divided it up and completely mismanaged it. It showed no ownership of its mistakes. It did not come forward and say that we need a protocol going forward to make sure, for international meetings, that we have, basically, rules nailed down on who is going to lead and who is going to take responsibility. Instead, fingers pointed everywhere but at itself, and it said good luck to everyone.

Meanwhile, Toronto was left with just a complete disaster, something that unnecessarily portrayed the city in an incredibly negative light , something that could have very easily been avoided. Of course, we all know the price tag. It was well over $1 billion, probably more than even the $1.3 billion that is being reported right now, for what turned out to be nothing more than a photo op and a black eye for Toronto.

However, it does not end there.

I spent the summer touring across the country, and one of the things that really struck me was how deeply offended many of the communities across the country are by the comments of Mr. Fadden, comments that cast aspersions upon Canadians and upon their citizenship. He treated them like second-class citizens, with no proof and no explanation. The government so terribly mishandled the situation with Mr. Fadden. Now the Chinese community and others are left with a growing cloud of suspicion that hangs over them, no ability to clear it, and no promise that it will be.

How the government handled Mr. Fadden, how it handled the G8 and G20, how it is handling the gun registry, which I am going to talk about tomorrow, so I will not today, and how it has dealt with issues generally when it comes to security intelligence, tells us that it is incompetent and that to hide that incompetence, it tries to shut down any dissent or any other voices.

For that reason, we are going to have to be very careful with this on the committee, and very careful with the government as we go forward in this House.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I have looked very carefully at the input from my colleague from Vancouver Kingsway on the predecessor to this bill. His intervention on this bill raises very serious questions for me.

As a lawyer in Canada, I commit to abide by the rule of law. This is why we have legislatures. This is why we have parliaments. We are duly elected, through an open election, to enact the laws and then to rule our country by the rule of law.

What I find extremely troubling in this bill, including the amendments, is that there really is no attempt to have balance. The government is always talking about its efforts to balance the two interests in the country. I see very serious incursions into the democratic principles of this country and our ability to rule by the rule of law, particularly when this bill would take away the right to know the charges and to be charged before being interrogated and incarcerated.

I wonder if the member could speak to whether he believes that the amendments put forward through this new bill would remedy that situation. On my review of the bill, it looks like those provisions are, frankly, contradictory.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.


Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Madam Speaker, we have to be very cautious. We need to look at this in committee, because we have conflicting information.

As recently as the last couple of months we have heard from law enforcement authorities who say that they do need additional powers, that what they have today is insufficient in the extraordinary case of a situation that is highly volatile and that puts the country in immediate peril.

By the same token, I can read something said by the former director of CSIS, Mr. Reid Morden, who said:

Police and Canadian Security Intelligence Service have “perfectly sufficient powers to do their jobs”....

He went on to say:

If they're properly resourced...they don't need more powers.

I think that there is a careful balance. We have conflicting information from both the intelligence community and the policing community on what additional powers are needed. That is why I really think people have to discount and ignore the government as it tries to ram things through, because we do not want to get it wrong.

I would also add that any balance in this bill today, any additional leveling out, is because of the good work in the Senate done by our Liberal colleagues there. I really want to commend them for the work they did to bring forward a number of amendments that I think substantively improve it.

No doubt, we have more work to do in committee. It is important to look at it there. From the witnesses we are going to have, we are going to have to sort out some of these things to make sure that we get it right.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my friends calling for a balance and for more investigation to be done, but it still comes back to this: These are fundamental rights. How long have we had the right to remain silent in the parliamentary system we have in English common law? Is it 400, 500 years? It is fundamental. It was pre-charter, pre-Constitution. It goes way back, and this is a direct attack on it.

When we juxtapose that direct attack with speculation that we might need it at some time in the future and set it in the context of the history of this country, the way the War Measures Act was used against the sovereignists in Quebec and the labour movement and civil rights advocates in Quebec in 1970, we do not have a good history of doing this right. We do not have a good history of the way we treated the Japanese, Italians, and Germans in the first and second world wars.

I ask my colleague, when it is a fundamental issue of human rights and civil rights in this country, and all we have in terms of trying to justify it is speculation, which I have to say, quite frankly, mostly is based on paranoia, how can his party justify supporting this legislation?

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Madam Speaker, I think it goes back to the comments that we are hearing from police officers, saying that there are instances where all their other powers are insufficient and they are unable to act with the expediency that is needed to avert a tremendous tragedy. I agree with everything he is saying in terms of having to be extraordinarily cautious.

We must ensure that there is in fact a need for that power and it has to be demonstrated. We must ensure if that power is then granted, that there are sufficient oversights and controls of it, that it would only be used in that extremely limited circumstance, it would only be used on a very temporary basis, and that there would be a very strict and rigid regime of accountability for when it was used.

We owe ourselves a debate on this and an opportunity to hear from both conflicting sides. The only thing we have had for the last three years on this issue are bombastic statements about “either approve it now or you are for terrorism”. That is the only thing we have heard. We have had no intelligent debate on this subject.

What I think we have had the beginnings of here today in the House, and what I want to see continued in committee, is a mature, honest conversation about the real factual need for these provisions. If there is a clear need for them, then there be very tight ironclad controls placed around them so that there is a regime of accountability that will not allow them to be used. This is a matter that this House has to consider carefully because this is a very difficult balance. It is not an easy balance.

We absolutely must protect the Canadian public against threats to our public security, against potential acts of terrorism, but that cannot come at the cost of our individual liberties or the things that the hon. member mentioned in his previous comments of stripping individuals of the things that make this country great and that have been the foundation of our democracy.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Ahuntsic has three minutes for questions and comments.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Madam Speaker, as my Liberal colleague knows, when we create a law we never know how it will be used. In fact, my NDP colleague gave us the prime example of the War Measures Act.

My Liberal colleague said that with regard to this provision, we need protection mechanisms that will help strike a balance between the need for tools and human rights. I would like to point out to my colleague that both provisions the Combating Terrorism Act would introduce are totally unnecessary. Provisions already exist in the Criminal Code that allow all this.

That being said, my colleague says that the police are complaining that they need more tools. Can he tell me precisely what tools they are talking about? I am not getting the same story. What tools are they talking about?

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Madam Speaker, I clearly said that in the most extraordinary of circumstances we want to make sure that the police have all the tools they need to do their job.

It is extremely irresponsible not to debate this in committee. Experts on both sides of the argument are saying entirely different things. We need to debate this in committee in order to ensure that tough measures are introduced to protect society and the rights of Canadians.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Madam Speaker, this session of Parliament opens with two of the Conservative government's favourite tactics: a warmed-over bill that is just for show, or what I like to call a microwave bill.

This bill is warmed over because this is the third time the government has introduced it. The Conservatives do not understand that we do not support this bill. Despite the fact that Parliament decided not to renew two provisions of the Anti-terrorism Act on February 27, 2007, Bill C-17, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (investigative hearing and recognizance with conditions) resurrects provisions of the former Bill C-19, which rehashed provisions of the former Bill S-3, as amended by the Senate Special Committee on Anti-terrorism in March 2008.

The purpose of this bill is to reintroduce measures that expired in February 2007 under a sunset clause. A sunset clause sets out exceptional measures that may violate human rights. The idea is to make it temporary and see if it works. That is usually why we have sunset clauses.

These measures were investigative hearings and recognizance with conditions, as I said earlier. I will cover these measures in more detail in my speech.

Neither House of Parliament renewed these measures because they were never used. No investigative hearings were held. Not a single one. What is more, recognizance with conditions provisions, also known as preventive arrest, were never used. These provisions had their chance, but they were totally useless. They also had major human rights implications. So why resurrect this warmed-over bill?

As I said earlier, the Conservatives' other favourite tactic is making a big show, which they do to scare people. They would have us believe that we live in a dangerous world full of terrorists. That is why the Conservatives make up laws so people think they are being taken care of and kept safe. They put on a show by introducing a totally useless bill to convince people that the government is really taking their safety seriously.

I have to say that I am getting a little tired of the way they scare people and keep bringing back the same old same old. The Conservatives are using fear of terrorism and fear of criminals to introduce and reintroduce crime bills. It is the same thing over and over again. Simply put, they are using fear of terrorism to justify attacks on human rights.

From December 2004 to March 2007, we heard from witnesses, read briefs, and questioned experts, representatives of civil society, and law enforcement officials. The Bloc Québécois made its position known. We felt that the investigative process needed better guidelines, and that this exceptional measure should be used only in specific cases in which it is necessary to prohibit activities where there is imminent peril of serious damage, and not in the case of misdeeds already committed. We were also firmly opposed to the provision dealing with preventive arrest and recognizance with conditions.

Our position has not changed since 2007. We will vote against this bill.

We made comments during the debate. Because there was a debate. I do not understand why my Liberal colleague thinks it is so important for us to have a debate. We have debated it. The Senate has debated it. We have talked about it. What is there left to say? If it is no good, it is no good, and we move on. There are things we can do to fight terrorism.

It is clear that they have not considered any of our suggestions. A number of recommendations were made by both the House of Commons and Senate committees that examined this issue. These recommendations were dismissed.

As usual, the Conservative government wants to have its own way, forgetting that in a free and democratic society, there must be a real balance between security and respect for human rights. The goal of terrorism is, of course, to force people live in a state of terror and to cause the rights of individuals to be violated. And in this, the terrorists will win, in what I can only characterize as a world war.

Let us take a closer look at the two provisions that this government is attempting to reintroduce. First, let us look at the provision concerning investigative hearings. Section 2 deals with sections 83.28 to 83.3 of the Criminal Code under which, generally speaking, a peace officer could—with the prior consent of the Attorney General—apply to a provincial court or superior court judge for an order for the gathering of information. The order, if made, requires the named person to appear before a judge for examination and to bring any information in his or her possession. The person named in the order loses the right to remain silent. It is as simple as that. In addition, section 83.29 states that a warrant of arrest can be issued for anyone evading the investigative hearing. So you lose your right to remain silent and if you are not happy about it, you can be arrested. That is more or less what this means.

In fact, the police never use this provision because, in a routine investigation, they can question witnesses and carry out search warrants to obtain documents. This is already covered in the Criminal Code and it is already very clear.

Now, let us look at the other provision, which is even worse: recognizance with conditions, or preventive arrest as it is called in section 83.3. At this time, it already exists in the Criminal Code as section 495, which says:

A peace officer may arrest without warrant:

(a) a person who...on reasonable grounds, he about to commit an indictable offence;

So preventive arrest already exists as section 495 of the Criminal Code. A person who is arrested under this section must be brought before a judge who can impose conditions, in the same manner as the Anti-terrorism Act. The judge can even refuse bail if he believes that freeing the person could prove prejudicial or jeopardize someone's safety, thus representing a threat to public safety.

We can see that this provision has not really been used because, in any event, the police already have the tools they need to do their job. It is simple. For example, if police officers believe that a person is about to commit an act of terrorism, then they have knowledge of a plot. They probably know, based on wiretap or surveillance information, that an indictable offence is about to be committed. Therefore, they have proof of a plot or attempt and need only lay a charge in order to arrest the person in question. They are already able to do so. There will eventually be a trial, at which time the arrested person will have the opportunity to a full answer and defence, as in any lawful society. The person will be acquitted if the suspicions are not justified; or, if there is sufficient proof that the person indeed wanted to commit an act of terrorism, they can be charged. It seems that the terrorist act thus apprehended would have been disrupted just as easily as it would have been had section 83.3 been used.

However, the preventive arrests the government wants to reinstate would allow for the arrest of a person who is not necessarily the one who is believed likely to commit a terrorist act, but only and simply a person whose arrest is necessary to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity. That is a significant nuance that can result in arbitrary arrests and target completely innocent people who have nothing to do with the case.

Some saw section 810 of the Criminal Code as being quite similar to section 83.3. Section 810 can employ the same type of procedure as section 83.3. While there is a similarity in the procedures followed in these two sections, there is a very big difference in their application. Section 810 talks about a summons, while section 83.3 talks about preventive arrest. Section 810 states that a person can be summoned before a judge, who can order that person to maintain the peace, which is not the same as the provision in section 83.3 whereby a person can be arrested because they are suspected of being a terrorist. Such an arrest is not based on fact, but on the suspicion that the person might be a terrorist. He is therefore arrested as a preventive measure. There is a big difference between these two sections.

It is extremely dangerous to create laws that are useless and violate the basic principles of criminal law, which seeks a balance between public safety and human rights. Whether we like it or not, it could lead to abuse sooner or later.

We should ask ourselves the following question: how can we wage an effective and intelligent war against terrorism? That is a very difficult question because, as with any form of crime, there is no simple, quick fix. Fighting crime or terrorism takes time and is very difficult because causes of such phenomena are numerous and complex. The solutions to such problems cannot be overly simplistic and consist merely of new Criminal Code provisions.

We have to attack the root of terrorism. That involves fighting poverty, not just in Canada and Quebec, but throughout the world. We live increasingly in an interrelated world, in an era of globalization. The world is becoming smaller as a result of the Internet and all rapid information systems. Regions are being abandoned and left in the hands of fundamentalists. We must fight urban violence and prevent ethnic wars. The war in Iraq, which was a great American lie, the rise of global conservatism, racism, intolerance of differences, communitarianism, the increasing Islamophobia in Canada and the world, must all be battled. I could list many more causes, but I will focus on something in which I have been especially interested for some time.

In order to effectively combat terrorism, we need to have professional, competent intelligence agencies and expert police services that are able to conduct investigations properly. The intelligence agency must be given the necessary resources to do the job, for it costs money. Canada has an intelligence agency, CSIS. Does that agency have sufficient financial resources to combat terrorism? It has a budget of half a billion dollars, which, I believe, is sufficient. The other fundamental question is whether it is competent and professional. That is the real question.

I conducted a little analysis of my own. I began to look at certain points, which I will share with the House. Very recently, retired Supreme Court judge John Major released his report on the Air India tragedy. The report harshly criticized CSIS and the RCMP. I will not dwell on that report for too long, because I do not have enough time.

One thing I would like to point out, however, is that CSIS has the discretionary authority to not share pertinent information with the police, including the RCMP. Furthermore, it was this lack of communication between the RCMP and CSIS that largely, and unfortunately, prevented this terrorist threat from being identified and averted.

On page 82 of volume three, the report states: “There is evidence that the discretion in section 19(2)(a) was used, especially in the early stages of the post-bombing investigation, to thwart full cooperation by CSIS with the RCMP.” I will not read the next part. However, there is a quotation, which states: “...we can only provide them investigational leads”. This illustrates the problem that exists in the legislation governing CSIS.

Furthermore, a Canadian Press article from June 17, 2010, reported that the former judge said that “agencies were not prepared for the threat of terror attacks in 1985—and holes in the country's security systems still need plugging”.

I also had a look at another issue regarding CSIS. Obviously, we had that scathing report, but there is also the matter of the current director, Mr. Fadden. I do not know whether you followed this during the summer, but the committee met and invited Mr. Fadden to speak about the allegations he made on CBC television. In committee, the Bloc tried to present a motion calling for the resignation of Mr. Fadden, the Director of CSIS, in light of the comments he made on the CBC. Because now we have a CSIS director who put on a show for the media. We have never seen that before. Generally, CSIS directors are very discreet. He came to the committee to apologize, but he made allegations to whoever would listen that ministers—we do not know where, we do not know who—and elected officials in British Columbia—we know where, but we do not know who—were agents of influence from foreign countries like China and the Middle East. What did he base this on? We do not know. But we do know the serious consequence of this type of unfounded and unsupported claims. Now the witch hunt is on to find out who these ministers are, who these elected officials in B.C. are who are agents of influence. He has already made similar statements in which he accused certain NGOs and advocacy groups of being sympathetic to terrorists.

These are the types of accusations we hear from this government when we do not vote in line with them: that we work with criminals and support terrorists. We have to wonder about the fact that an agency like this is being managed by a leader like that. We have been waiting for Mr. Fadden's resignation, which has still not happened. So let us ask this: was he simply following directions from higher up? We would like to know what is going on on the other side of the House.

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1:30 p.m.

France Bonsant

Good luck.

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1:30 p.m.


Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Yes, good luck.

I will try to cover my last point quickly. It is about statements that appeared in the Canadian Press in September 2010. According to the statements, Mr. Fadden received a memo stating that CSIS is using information obtained through torture. I want to point out that we debated this in the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in March 2009.

I will stop there and come back to this later.

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1:35 p.m.


Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, I was just wondering whether my colleague from the Bloc wanted to elaborate on that point, please.

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1:35 p.m.


Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague very much.

The saga began on March 5, 2009, in the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security when the executive director of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, Ms. Pollack, appeared as a witness. I asked her if CSIS uses, has used, or will use, information obtained by torture and if so, is it reliable? I will read to you what she said in response. It is quite something.

As for the first question, related to information obtained through torture, there is a decision that has been rendered by a member of this committee in the context of a complaint that was made, in which it was determined that at times, yes, CSIS does use information that was obtained through torture and that their overriding focus in doing so.... Obviously they do so in the context of investigating threats to the security of Canada. Is this information reliable? Naturally her response was “no”.

I will be told, of course, that that was the answer given by Ms. Pollack of the Security Intelligence Review Committee. But what does CSIS have to say about this? The same day, March 5, we were also joined by a CSIS representative, Mr. O'Brien, operations and legislation advisor for CSIS. I asked him the very same question. Mr. O'Brien is a very honest person, for he told the truth. After skating around the issue for a bit, he finally replied as follows:

Frankly, I'm tempted to say that there are four words that can provide a simple answer, and those four words are either—and this is the skating around—“yes, but” or “no, but”, and the “yes, but” is, do we use information that comes from torture? And the answer is that we only do so if lives are at stake.

So they do use this kind of information.

So a public safety minister and the head of CSIS at the time appeared before the committee and told us to our face that Canada does not use this kind of information. They said so to our face. But what have we learned since? On September 13, 2010, a briefing note intended for Mr. Fadden specified that even though such information could not be used in a court of law to prosecute someone who poses an imminent threat, the government—the Conservative government—must make use of the information to attempt to disrupt that threat before it materializes. That is the reality at CSIS.

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1:40 p.m.


France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Madam Speaker, I was listening to my colleague from Ahuntsic, who spoke about terrorism, torture and so forth. I would like to know what she thinks about the international agreement. In fact, we do not have the right to torture people just for the fun of it. Therefore, I would like her to further explain how they hide the threat of torture and what is presently happening to people in other countries.

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1:40 p.m.


Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. No one has the right to torture anyone. No one has the right to use information obtained through torture. Canada has signed conventions prohibiting the use of torture. Canada—and by extension, every agency, department and body under its authority—must uphold these conventions.

CSIS is not above the law. Its purpose is to carry out threat assessments. The worst part of all this is that CSIS says that it uses information obtained through torture. This is dangerous because such information sources are not reliable. CSIS is, therefore, producing inaccurate assessments. And if its assessments are inaccurate, we need to ask ourselves how this is affecting our security. We are essentially entrusting this agency with the duty to conduct assessments regarding the threat of terrorism when it has clearly stated that on occasion it uses information obtained through torture—inaccurate information—when it sees an extreme threat.

The Omar Khadr case is the best example and clearest evidence of this. He admitted under torture that he saw Maher Arar in an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. And yet we now know that this is not true. But that is to be expected. When you are 15 years old and end up in Guantanamo being tortured, you will go so far as to say that you have seen extraterrestrials. You will say any absurd thing just so that they stop torturing you.

Statistically—and all the studies show this—information obtained through torture is not only immoral, it is unreliable.

So we have one agency, which is giving unreliable information to the RCMP, which in turn spends our money conducting investigations based on unreliable information. The worst part is that we give them half a billion dollars a year to carry out this kind of assessment.

Instead of passing legislation introducing two useless provisions, we need to properly overhaul the law governing CSIS and review the way it does things. That is what we need to do. We should not be debating two completely pointless clauses today; we should be talking about what needs to be done with CSIS in order to make it effective, competent and accountable.

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1:40 p.m.


Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, whenever I get up to speak to legislation that purports to fight terrorism, I think of a rule that I had for my staff when I was practising law and a rule that I had and still have for my campaign workers. I tell them not to panic.

There are times when I have even thought seriously about perhaps having an amendment in our Constitution that would compel political leaders of whatever political stripe not to panic in a time of crisis. This happened in 2001 and in 1970 with the War Measures Act. It happened during the second world war with our shabby treatment of Japanese Canadian citizens. It happened in the first and second world war with the way we treated Italian and German Canadians, longtime citizens of this country.

When facing a crisis, we as political leaders feel that we have to do something even when all the evidence shows that the structures we have, the strength of our society, the strength of our laws, are enough to deal with it. We passed legislation in early 2002 to deal with terrorism when we panicked. We have learned in the last eight years that there was no need for that legislation.

The justice minister today said that we might need it. If it was not for the fact that we are dealing with fundamental human rights and fundamental civil liberties, there might be some merit and some logic to that argument, but these two sections of the anti-terrorism legislation are talking about a serious incursion into rights that have existed in this country since pre-Confederation, rights that go back four or five hundred years to the common law of England. One of my colleague's made that point in a speech.

The vast majority of our children in elementary school know they are supposed to have the absolute right to remain silent. The whole weight of the state cannot be used against someone to force him or her to testify against himself or herself. As we heard just now from the Bloc, a part of that has been used historically. Torture has been used to force people to confess, to make statements against their own interests. We had the fundamental right to remain silent until this legislation came into effect in Canada. Set in that context, there is absolutely no justification for us to have this type of attack on those fundamental rights.

We hear speculation about this or that possibly happening and this type of legislation being needed in those circumstances. 9/11 was nine years ago and we have not needed it that whole time. There have been incidents of people contemplating violence for political ends, one of the definitions of terrorism. We never needed this type of legislation in any of those incidents. One of the former directors of CSIS, Reid Morden, has come out publicly and confirmed that we have not needed it. He said, “There is no need for this type of incursion into those fundamental rights”.

We also have to set in context the history of this country when we look at the way the War Measures Act was used during the second world war against Japanese Canadians and the way it was used against a wide swath of the population of Quebec in 1970.

I always tell this story with regard to the not panicking. The justice minister of that day was my predecessor from my riding, a law dean, and very well-educated. I remember having a breakfast meeting with him, in Windsor, about 48 hours before the War Measures Act was invoked. What he said to me at that time was, “We don't know what's going on in the province of Quebec. We don't know if there is in fact an apprehended insurrection occurring there. We just don't know”. And yet, less than 48 hours later, the then Prime Minister involved the War Measures Act.

What did we see at that time, in terms of the relevancy of this? We saw labour leaders, we saw members of civil society, with broad sweeps, incarcerated. No explanation. No charges. Some kept for short periods of time. A large number kept for weeks and even into a month or more.

I have to say in spite of the protestations by the government, and I have to say the Liberals and the official opposition, of some of the protections it is trying to build in, that risk still exists with this legislation if it were to become the law of the land. Because when we panic and we start making decisions based on that, whether it is political leaders, whether it is prosecutors, whether it is police, judgment goes out the window. Those fundamental rights get breached rapidly and dramatically.

The bottom line is that it is not worth the risk to pass this legislation to have that incursion into our fundamental rights in this country for what might happen in the future.

I want to make this other point which I made earlier when I was asking a question of the justice minister.

We had extensive hearings when the review occurred of the anti-terrorism legislation. We did those in 2006 into early 2007. We had a large number of witnesses come before us to try to justify this type of legislation. They were repeatedly asked, “What are the scenarios?” and they would describe scenarios where they thought they could use this legislation, none that had ever occurred in Canada up to that point and none that have occurred since then either.

However, when pressed about other sections of the Criminal Code that could be used for charges at that time, or sections in the Canada Evidence Act that could be used to justify getting out the information they needed, without exception that I can recall, and I think I am accurate on this, there was not one of those scenarios which stood up to an analysis of why we needed this legislation which is what we already have in our law as tools for our officers to use.

I want to digress for just a second.

I really do not think it lies in the mouth of the Conservative government to try to justify the use of this legislation because it is being asked to do so by our police forces. Our police forces are not out lobbying for this legislation. They are out lobbying to hold on to the gun registry and the government is ignoring them 100%, in fact, in many cases, accusing them of misleading facts and ignoring all of the recommendations from them, which are based on facts, in that situation, as opposed to speculation under this bill.

They are trying to build in these protections, which is an admission of how much this could affect us, and in fact will affect us, I say that without hesitation, in another crisis as individual citizens of this country. Will it be the first nations? Will it be the sovereignists in Quebec? Will it be the labour movement? Will it be radical students? We do not know who the target will be, but there will be a target group and it will be used against them when the government goes into that panic phase.

The Liberals' reliance on the review being done by both the Senate and the House gives me no sense of comfort. When this comes up for review again, should the law ever get through, I have no comfort in it being turned over to an unelected Senate that has been stacked or will be in another few months by the Conservatives. I have no sense of comfort that that body will protect these fundamental rights of all Canadians.

What are we trying to do here? I hear from both the Conservatives and the Liberals that we are trying to strike a balance. The fundamental rule is that we do not compromise on fundamental rights, whether it is here in this country or at the international level. The right to remain silent is a fundamental right. The right to not be incarcerated without charge and without knowing the charge is a fundamental right. There is no compromise on fundamental rights. If we use that as our guideline, then we must vote against this legislation.

I could go into the details of some of the objections that I am hearing from Conservatives, in particular to our position, but when we look at the protection they are trying to build in, it is just not there.

One of my colleagues earlier today pointed out that with regard to the right to remain silent, we do not have that any more. We must give information. The Conservatives have now tried to build into the legislation a right to have counsel which was not there before in the prior legislation. It was not there in one of the original drafts of the legislation either. However, those two sections are completely contradictory. I, quite frankly, do not know what a court will do. My sense is that it will determine that in fact one does not have a right to counsel, that one must give the evidence that is being demanded if one does not have time to get counsel in to assist them. This is another fundamental right that was created by the charter, long-standing in our country, and it will go by the wayside if the bill goes through.

The rules are: we do not panic when we are in a crisis situation; we never compromise on fundamental rights, which is what is being proposed here; and we should not rely on an unelected Senate to protect those fundamental rights, which is also being proposed. Certainly, when we look at the so-called protections that are here in this incursion, they are not there.

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1:55 p.m.


Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, my friend goes back to the annals of history with the War Measures Act. He did not quite go back to the War of 1812, with which he may be personally acquainted, but does he not concede that the War Measures Act, when it was applied in the second world war and again in 1970, was in the pre-charter era and that there is no danger whatsoever that any of the ATA provisions would not be reviewed within the scope of the charter?

Surely the member is aware of court decisions that were very adamant in ensuring that the right to counsel of the choice of the detainee would be inserted in the law. Surely he thinks that could be either made by way of amendment at committee or perhaps even be proposed by the government.

With that provision, which is the salient point that the courts have opined upon, would the member not be comfortable with the charter in place, with the right to counsel and finally his statement that these are fundamental rights, right to counsel and right against self-incrimination? Does he not concede that section 1 of the charter, which overrides, in the case of national security, certain fundamental rights exist and has been held by the courts, the Supreme Court of Canada in fact, to have been applied?

In other words, does the member not concede that even though we have not used these provisions we may need these provisions and that it is prudent government to look at legislation that takes into account the modern laws, not the laws of the 1940s, which his speech was, with all due respect, replete with?

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2 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I hesitate to cut the hon. member off at this point in time but it being two o'clock we have to proceed with statements by members. I am afraid the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh will have to wait until debate resumes to answer this question. I am sure he is looking forward to that.

Firearms RegistryStatements By Members

September 20th, 2010 / 2 p.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have spent 15 years and made over 550 access to information requests to uncover the true costs of the wasteful long gun registry. The registry does not improve public safety in a cost effective way. First, it only targets law-abiding citizens; second, front line police officers do not rely on the long gun registry data because to do so would put their lives in danger; third, laying a piece of paper beside a gun does not prevent crime.

Above all this is the overwhelming cost. At a price tag of well over $1 billion, only about one-third to one-half of the rifles and shotguns in Canada have been registered. A police chief in Saskatchewan has warned me that if we do not get rid of the long gun registry, it will cost at least another $1 billion to register the rest of them.

Are Canadians willing to squander up another $1 billion to register the remaining firearms or would they rather spend the money targeting organized crime and real criminals that are threatening the peace in our communities?

Lake WinnipegStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, while the Minister of Public Safety proclaims that Manitoba has had “more than its fair share” of government funding, the real needs of Lake Winnipeg continue to be grossly ignored. The rehabilitation of Lake Winnipeg, the 10th largest freshwater lake in the world, requires real federal leadership.

In 2005, the federal-provincial Lake Winnipeg implementation committee called for a $40 million five-year investment to bolster scientific understanding and to begin rehabilitation. In the 2006 election, the Liberals understood the critical state of Lake Winnipeg and went further, committing $120 million over 10 years and developing a comprehensive plan for cleanup, which included reducing the levels of harmful pollutants to the pre-1970s levels.

However, despite these calls to action, the Conservative government waited until 2007 to announce $3.5 million per year for Lake Winnipeg, while at the same time committing $6 million annually to Lake Simcoe in Ontario, which has a watershed a fraction of the size. Surely—

Lake WinnipegStatements By Members

2 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

Old Rivière-Bleue Train StationStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Claude Guimond Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning was the official opening of the Vieille Gare de Rivière-Bleue. On September 12, this achievement, which was spearheaded by the local heritage corporation, received the heritage award for preservation, restoration and conservation from the Conseil de la culture du Bas-St-Laurent.

Located in the heart of the town, Rivière-Bleue's former train station, which was built in 1913, is typical of transcontinental train stations from that era. It is the only one that has been preserved and that has its charming architectural features intact. It was saved from demolition in 1981 when the town of Rivière-Bleue purchased it, and it was designated as a historic monument in 2007.

I would like to congratulate the people and the authorities of Rivière-Bleue on their achievement.

Chinese CanadiansStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, tonight in New Westminster a formal apology will be given by the city to the many residents of Chinese origin for racist, exclusionary policies passed several generations ago. This apology comes after an extensive consultation process with residents that has taken one year to complete, the first such reconciliation process undertaken by a city in Canada. We hope other cities do the same.

Sadly, it was a predecessor who rose in this House as MP for New Westminster who introduced the resolution which led to the infamous law that excluded Chinese immigrants to Canada for decades. The contribution that Chinese Canadians have made to this country is immense.

Though it is with sadness that we look at this part of our past, we look with optimism to the future as Canadians of Chinese descent contribute mightily to the building of Canada.

I rise today to formally apologize for the actions of my predecessor and his contribution to the racist and exclusionary policies that were enacted at the time.

[Member spoke in Chinese and provided the following translation:]

We are sorry.

Firearms RegistryStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, the summer is over and this week we vote on whether to scrap the costly and ineffective long gun registry. No longer can the NDP and Liberal MPs hide by saying one thing in their ridings and quite another thing when they are in Ottawa.

Let us take the NDP leader. After promising to allow a free vote, he is now secretly trying to force 12 of his MPs to vote to keep the $1 billion registry rather than do the right thing and listen to their constituents.

Then there are the eight Liberal MPs. Last November, they followed the wishes of their constituents and voted to eliminate the wasteful registry. Today they have sold out to a Liberal leader who proudly states, “It's my way or the highway”.

What a sad and sorry state of affairs: 12 NDP MPs and 8 Liberal MPs all making a solemn promise to their constituents. On Wednesday, Canadians will know whether they can be trusted or not.

Honorary Naval CaptainStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a former resident of Harbour Breton, a community in the riding of Random—Burin—St. George's. Captain Sid Hynes who, early in his career, distinguished himself as a marine captain, has also proven to be equally adept as a captain of business.

In honour of his many accomplishments, Captain Hynes has been appointed an honorary naval captain by the Canadian Navy and to date is the only individual from Newfoundland and Labrador to garner such recognition and one of only 17 in Canada. He has been named one of the top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada and recently Captain Hynes was awarded the Medal of Merit by the Association of Canadian Port Authorities.

His years as a sea captain, coupled with his experience as a strong business leader as former president and CEO of Marine Atlantic, as well as his present position as CEO of Oceanex, Captain Hynes has shown to be someone who gets the job done. Since becoming CEO of Oceanex, Captain Hynes has increased the company revenue by 16%.

Captain Sid Hynes is a Canadian who has made and continues to make a difference in our country. He deserves our recognition and our appreciation.