House of Commons Hansard #165 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was terrorism.


Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.


Alexandrine Latendresse NDP Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill S-7 today because it is a bill that comes to us from that wonderful other place. That other place is the gift that keeps on giving. This is one of those rare and special opportunities to see the senators at work during their very, very long mandate. We might forget they exist sometimes. Alas, Eppur si muove, and yet it moves, as Galileo said.

I would like read the title of Bill S-7 to put things into context. The title is: An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Security of Information Act. Behind this rather banal title lies a series of measures that seek to amend our anti-terrorism laws. All these changes originate in the panic that followed the events of September 11, 2001, and for good reason. The west woke up one morning with a very real threat at its doorstep. Our American neighbours were hit hard, and we all came to realize that the North American fortress might be much more vulnerable than we ever thought.

Since then, we have been trying as best we can to balance our fear, our lack of understanding and our ability to defend ourselves. It is quite normal to want to protect one's country against terrorism. It is also quite normal to want to help one's neighbour and closest ally. In spite of their great expertise, Americans have had to face terrorism in the worst possible way: their country was attacked and their citizens killed without warning.

However, Canada has little experience with terrorism. Our country has practically never been attacked by a foreign power, other than the United States, and it is probably not a top target for anyone. That does not mean that we must not be prudent. Just the same, I want to remind everyone that the threat, although possible, is really a perceived threat.

For Canadians, acts of violence and terror over the years have amounted to the occasional shooting, except for the Air India incident in 1987. The destruction of the Air India Boeing by a bomb off the coast of Ireland was a brutal wake-up call for our security services. It is a shameful tragedy that laid bare our weaknesses. One year later, there was the bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie. Air safety is no longer what it used to be before that.

Shootings in Canada—I am thinking of École Polytechnique and Dawson College—are not acts of terrorism. We were all shocked and alarmed by these horrific incidents, but they were isolated attacks and not politically motivated. To prevent these desperate acts of violence, we created the long gun registry, which the Conservatives are trying to abolish as quickly as possible. Bill S-7 would not have prevented these isolated acts of terror that took place in Canada on a number of occasions.

I lived in a country where terrorism is an everyday threat. People always have to be on their guard in Moscow. Before getting onto the subway, they glance suspiciously at the other passengers. In very busy public places, people are always gripped by the fear that something could happen. There are often serious attacks in Russia.

Simply sending a parcel through the Russian postal service is quite an undertaking. People have to wrap their parcel in front of the postal worker, who then seals the package with special tape. It can easily take 30 minutes. It is a simple act of everyday life that has become very complicated by the fear of fear. I am not criticizing the Russians; they manage this situation the best they can within their means.

No matter what anybody says, Canada has never known such a climate of fear. Although some members of this House like to describe certain current political parties in Quebec as extremist, I would like to remind everyone that Québec solidaire has nothing to do with the Front de libération du Québec. Really, people can rest easy.

We could also talk about domestic terrorism, which is a much more insidious threat, because no one wants to imagine that it is possible. Two years ago, who could have predicted a terrorist attack right in the middle of Oslo, Norway, the most peaceful, most prosperous, most educated and nicest country in the world? No one could have.

What does Bill S-7 propose to combat terrorism and better protect Canadians? I would not say nothing at all, but almost nothing. The original aim of the Anti-terrorism Act was to update Canadian laws to meet international standards, particularly UN requirements, and to provide a legislative response to the events of September 11, 2001.

Since 2001, we have had an opportunity to review that legislation, which was passed in response to a specific event that threw people into a state of panic. We have since learned that there is actually nothing to justify such a law. When those provisions expired in 2007, there had never been any investigative hearing required or any situation that called for recognizance with conditions.

Canada's Anti-terrorism Act was brought in line with similar legislation passed by our traditional allies. Furthermore, the Criminal Code contains plenty of provisions to deal with such matters efficiently and quickly, and without violating anyone's basic human rights.

Bill S-7 would also take away fundamental civil rights. We understand that the threat of terrorism is elusive, unpredictable and can easily escape our vigilance. But we must not become completely paranoid. As I said earlier, although it is always possible, Canada is not a target for anyone.

The whole spirit of Bill S-7 is much more about the need to protect the United States. It is as though we were implicitly accepting that Canada itself is not threatened, but could be used as a conduit. We are afraid of being a waiting room for the United States, where jihadists come to prepare their bombs. Is that it? We have to wonder whether this is simply a request from the United States, as was the case in 2001, but I doubt it. It is definitely no longer 2001, and the United States has turned a page and is no longer putting the same kind of pressure on Canada.

So why insist on bringing back clauses that expired in 2007? Why the urgency? Why is the Senate sending us this uninspired legislation that is 10 years old? What are we to make of this unforeseen development?

I can think of two explanations. First, this bill has come to Parliament to distract Canadians from the government's paltry legislative agenda. The government also has to show that it uses its Senate caucus from time to time. If it is going to serve us legislative leftovers, it might as well send them out from the Senate kitchen. Canadians do not know where the senators are coming from. Maybe they are stuck in some kind of parliamentary twilight zone. The senators have nothing to worry about because they are not accountable to the Canadian public and will not have to answer to voters in three years. We might as well say they are accountable only to God himself.

The other possible explanation is that the Conservative government wants to get rid of these sunset clauses once and for all, since they are no longer applicable because they were never used. I think that the government does not even want them and is debating Bill S-7 without really believing in it. I cannot wait to see the results of the vote at second reading, because I think that Bill S-7 is nothing more than an attempt to show that the senators do work. That is too bad; there were bills from the other place that were much more relevant and substantial. The Senate is filled with talented, intelligent, accomplished people. It is time to make use of them.

One of the things that bothers me the most about this Senate bill is that this is not the first time we have debated this issue. Witnesses have come and told us in no uncertain terms that some provisions of this bill create glaring problems. The legislation that is being introduced again has never been used and may never be. People explained that to us in great detail. Clearly, no one is thrilled about these provisions. They are not of interest to anyone and do not serve anyone. In fact, they create more problems than they solve, which is somewhat counterproductive.

I have also lived in a country where the police had too much arbitrary authority and where almost anyone could be arrested anywhere, at any time and for any reason. There are not 75 different ways to become a police state. The first step is to give too much discretionary power to security services on the pretext of all sorts of potential and invented threats. We must not take that step.

Why start compromising our civil liberties now, 11 years after the events of September 11, when the days of the war on terrorism started by President Bush are pretty much over? Why?

I would like to quote one of the witnesses, Ihsaan Gardee, the executive director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations. He said:

Some legal commentators have argued that there is a narrow gap within the Canadian context in which preventive detention has utility. However, there are significant risks associated with overreaching state powers, such as the ability to detain someone for up to 72 hours. To jeopardize civil liberties for a potential yet unrealized circumstance pushes the boundaries between civil rights and concrete national security concerns.

In other words, it is like getting on a train when we do not know exactly where it is going to take us. We have never acted this way in this country. We will not do it now, and we will never do it. We are more intelligent than that, and if ever there are threats that need to be dealt with, I am convinced that our existing laws will be sufficient to get the job done.

In conclusion, I would like to remind the hon. members that this bill is a rather sad collection of provisions that do not amount to much of anything. These issues have already been debated. The bill goes against what everyone agreed upon and is extremely disappointing. I have the right to expect that, when the other chamber thinks it is appropriate to send a bill to the House of Commons, it will make the effort to suggest relevant solutions. That is not the case here, and I am very disappointed.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank my colleague for her very rational, fact-based arguments about the bill and why we should be opposing it.

I want to tell her that I was in Parliament in 2001, when the original anti-terrorism bill, Bill C-36, was basically rushed through Parliament. There was very little examination and the one thing we were able to do was to get those sunset clauses included so that there would be a review on the two key issues of interrogation and preventative detention. This is what is coming back to us now, after so many years of various attempts to have this legislation come back.

I am very glad that she has given an overview of what this legislation is about.

I guess the thing that really bothers me is that what we see from the Conservative government is a pattern, that for every problem it defines, and it is not necessarily a problem, the only answer it can come up with is some new piece of criminal legislation. This is exactly what is happening here.

We know, for example, that the sunsetted clauses were only used once. It really begs the question as to why these provisions are needed. I think it is probably more important that we provide support to law enforcement agencies for enforcement, for intelligence gathering, rather than saying, “Well, the answer is another new law”.

I wonder if the member would comment on that.

I liked her analogy that we are getting on a train with no idea where it is going. I think she was right on when she said that.

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12:50 p.m.


Alexandrine Latendresse NDP Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Vancouver East for her question. It had not occurred to me, but yes, she was here in 2001 when this legislation was first passed and she therefore has a unique perspective to offer.

I completely agree with her regarding the fact that there is something really twisted about how the Conservatives always seem to find new ways to bring the Criminal Code into every piece of legislation. Their response to any situation that arises is always to introduce a new bill that creates another offence, when in fact, many other things could be done. Other measures could be much more useful and effective than this kind of legislation.

I would like to say a huge thank you for all of her hard work on this matter.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.


Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent for her excellent speech.

Following from the previous question, I would like to ask a supplementary to that.

We know that the government is introducing provisions that have already been voted down by the House in 2007 and that these provisions were introduced just after September 11, 2001.

The government's response to everything is, “Let's change the Criminal Code and add something else”. We know that it writes legislation for anything that is happening in the country, saying, “Let's change the Criminal Code”.

Is this because the government thinks that there are more criminals in this country than there are good-quality Canadian citizens? I do not understand. We should be writing legislation and making policy for the norm in the country, for the majority of the people in the country, not for the exceptions. We know that these provisions were not used when they were put into place.

Would my colleague please comment?

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.


Alexandrine Latendresse NDP Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Scarborough—Rouge River for her question, because I know she really understands these issues. As we can see from her question, she has a good grasp of a big part of the problem.

These provisions have never been used, as the member just said and as I said in my speech, and yet the Conservatives want to reintroduce them. This is simply paranoia. Instead of looking at what can really be done to improve the lives of Canadians, the Conservatives are imagining catastrophic scenarios in which nasty criminals pose a serious threat, when that is not at all the case.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.


Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege today to speak against the legislation.

Bill S-7 would amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Security of Information Act. These are weighty matters when we are talking about the security of the country. Opposing the bill is not a position that we take lightly. Whenever we move legislation and develop new statutes, we always need to carefully weigh whether they are effective tools. If they are effective tools, we need to know how they will be used and what the costs will be? I would argue that this legislation would not be an effective tool to either stop or deter actions of terrorism.

Elements of the legislation, which are being brought back after the sunset clause expired, were brought in at a time when the world was gripped with the incident on 9/11. I do not think I need to ask if people remember where they were on that particular date. We all remember where we were as we watched with horror that whole scene play out before us.

In response to the terrible act of terrorism that occurred on that day, there was a quick reaction around the globe to look for a quick fix, that one thing that would fix it and ensure such an event would never occur again. However, we know from our history that there is no magic pill.

When these particular clauses were in effect, the ones that have now expired and the government is trying to bring back, they were only invoked once and that was during the Air India investigation. I do not think anyone would disagree when that was characterized as being one of our biggest fiascos. We have statutes, laws and systems in place to tackle the issues that this legislation purports to tackle.

What we need to look at is the broader scourge of terrorism. If there is no magic pill, what are some of the effective tools that we should be utilizing? Intelligence would be one of them and enforcement would be another. The government should be looking at investing in these areas and ensuring that enforcement has the resources it needs in order to utilize the tools it has right now.

We must oppose the bill because it would be so ineffective at combatting terrorism. It also would unnecessarily infringe on our civil liberties, which we value. We live in a country where we have a parliamentary democracy, we live by the rule of law and we value our freedoms. Bill S-7 would violate one of the most basic civil liberties and human rights, specifically, the right to remain silent and the right not to be imprisoned without first having a fair trial. We need take time to reflect on that because, when we start moving away from those Canadian values, we need to ask ourselves what we are putting at risk.

The Criminal Code currently contains all the necessary provisions for investigating those who are engaged in criminal activity and law enforcement has the ability to detain anyone who may present an immediate threat to Canadians. We can look at this and ask why we are debating this in the House today. I would say that we are debating it in the House today because the government is trying to deflect from its lack of action on key issues that are very important to Canadians and important to the security of our communities. It is a way to distract from the massive changes that are being made to our immigration policies. It is a way to distract from the fact that many Canadians are without work. It is a way to distract from the budget, or, I should say, the telephone book, that will be before the House in the next few days.

We have all this talk about terrorism. After 9/11, it was not a good time to be joking about terrorism, but the world was engaged in trying to find out where Osama bin Laden was. I can remember wondering where we were looking. I will always remember something that was said to me by a dear friend of mine. She said that he was probably sitting in a New York cafe drinking lattes, wearing an Armani suit, while everybody else was running around.

At that time, there was this fear around the globe, and I would say especially in North America and Europe. We were looking for ways to take control of terrorism. the one thing we have learned over the years is that this is a scourge that is not that easy to take on. Terrorists do not go around wearing signs saying that they are terrorists and that they should be picked up and taken in for questioning.

When we create new legislation, we need to create legislation that will be effective, useful and do what it purports to do. There is no way that this legislation would achieve what it claims to achieve. There is definitely a huge imbalance in this bill between security and the basic rights that we value as Canadians.

I wish I could get the opposition to focus on tackling some of the real issues facing communities around the country. I will talk a little bit about my riding of Newton—North Delta. We are very concerned about the safety of our communities in Surrey and North Delta. One of the reasons we are really concerned is that we are very worried about the high level of gun violence we have seen over the last number of years.

What we are looking for is some action, some support, some strategies and some commitment of resources to combat that kind of gun violence that is taking place on our streets and having an impact on our youth in a huge way. I do not have enough fingers on both my hands to count the number of young people we have lost due to gun violence.

When it comes to gun violence, all we get is the government saying that it will do away with the gun registry. That really did not help to tackle that problem. Then we hear about firmer sentences. I want to remind everyone that the U.S. has what I would consider one of the firmest sentences, and that is the death penalty. I am so pleased that we do not have that. It has the death penalty and, despite that, gun violence and violent crime have not declined. It also has the highest level of people in prisons. That also has not led to crime or gun violence being reduced.

What is it that we as government should be looking at? I think it is time for all levels of government to invest in a serious way in education. It is time we take seriously that we need to tackle the issues that drive our youth toward violence, the drug trade and gang activity. We need to tackle issues such as poverty, homelessness, mental illness and economic insecurity, that feeling of not belonging. There are so many things we need to tackle and yet what do we have in front of us?

We have a bill in front of us that actually attacks two of our most valued basic rights: the right not to be imprisoned without first having a fair trial and the right to remain silent. In a way, those measures would do absolutely nothing to tackle terrorism. If we are really talking about the security of the nation, we should look at our communities across Canada and ask ourselves what we can do to tackle the root causes of our young and not so young getting engaged in a world of crime and being enticed by that kind of lifestyle.

Our focus should be fully on that issue but I see very little of that from across the way. We hear a lot about more prisons, higher sentences and sentences for minor infractions, almost as if sending people to prison and punishing people will solve our problems.

One of the things I have learned as a teacher is that positive reinforcement and preventive measures are far better tools and much cheaper, meaning not so hard on us emotionally or financially, than going down the punitive road, especially with legislation that will do nothing, but on paper it will give the PMO another opportunity to write speaking notes to say that the government is tackling terrorism.

Our legislation should not be there just for the purpose of giving the PMO an opportunity to make more speaking notes, especially when the legislation will not achieve the results it purports it is trying to tackle. Instead, we need to ask parliamentarians to start tackling the facts that tell the federal government that we need a national strategy on affordable housing. We need to seriously tackle the child poverty rate in this country. Some people will ask what that has to do with safety and security. I cannot imagine anything more critical to our safety and security than ensuring our children are fed, housed and educated. That is what we are all about.

It does not matter where we have come from, what we value as Canadians right across this country is living in safe communities. However, we also know that punitive measures do not necessarily achieve safe communities. As a teacher, I realize and recognize, and I am sure others do as well, the value of putting money into preventative measures.

For the youth in our cities who are struggling, let us invest some money into some prevention programs. A lot of those community programs that used to keep our kids off the street and used to help them develop the skills to integrate into society and to be productive members of our communities have been cut. The funding to those programs is gone.

This is just so it looks as if we are doing something. We are spending hours debating this piece of legislation, while people in our communities are asking us what we are doing to tackle the issues that are hurting them right there at home.

Over the last number of years, when the Liberals were in power, my community saw a task force on gang violence. It led nowhere. People getting together just to talk is not going to solve the problem. We need the funding to put action and programs into place. I appeal to my colleagues across the way to take a look at the security of our communities and work together to develop strategies and action plans. Then, let us apply the resources so that our communities can feel safe and we can tackle this disconnect that our youth are feeling and therefore being enticed into drug-related gangs that do a lot of harm in our communities. It would probably take a lot less money than some of the measures purported in the bill, which would actually lead to no change at all and would probably hardly ever be used.

To put somebody in prison for a year, I believe, the cost is now over $80,000. Yet right across this country, we are not willing to spend more than $8,000, $9,000, $10,000 or for some about $12,000 a year to educate our children. We have to look at investment in education but also investment in the early years, because we know how important those years are to young people as they proceed through life.

We should also talk about other areas we could be investing in. I was quite taken aback when I read some of the staggering figures in here. The Rideau Institute released a report that said that the various branches of government that are involved in the fight against terrorism in Canada received $92 billion more than they would have normally received. That is quite a staggering figure. Obviously, money is not the issue here. It is about where we want to allocate our resources. If we really want to tackle security for our communities, let us deal with issues that can make a real difference.

Let us not fake it with a bill that purports to bring back a couple of clauses that were used only once, which was a disaster, and have not really been missed. The police and intelligence officers already have the resources and statutes they need to keep us safe and secure. Instead, let us look at how we can support the structures we have and how we can invest in prevention and rehabilitation programs. One thing I have learned is that when looking at rehabilitation, hitting somebody on the head is not how to get them to reform their ways. It usually takes a lot more than that and that is where we have to make our investment, because our children deserve nothing less.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the member opposite clearly knows there is a difference between combatting terrorism, which is worldwide, and trying to prevent it from coming to Canada or occurring in Canada, and fighting domestic crime in our streets. The member somehow equates them as being one and the same. Of course, they are not.

She talked about providing more education programs for our youth and investing more money in education, but there is one thing I never heard her say, unfortunately, and maybe it is because she does not think that parents have a responsibility to give good guidance to their children. I think the NDP believes that the government should bring up our kids and not their parents. She knows that the household environment that kids are brought up in is led by the parents. If the parents are not responsible and do not provide a meaningful household environment to bring their kids up in, the children are going to look elsewhere for comfort. It may be a street gang or they may quit school early because they are not being encouraged by their parents to stay in school.

Simply throwing money at the problem and not getting to the root of the problem of irresponsible parents is not an answer, as New Democrats would have us believe.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, introducing a bill that reintroduces clauses that were never used and add no value is also not a way to tackle serious terrorism issues. I understand the difference and I find it outrageous, standing here as a mother, a grandmother and a teacher who has dealt with hundreds, if not thousands, of students during my career, to hear a parliamentarian put the blame squarely on families when children get into difficulties.

I believe that raising a child is the job of the whole village or community. Parents absolutely play a critical role, but not every parent has the resources, skills or tools to spend time with their children. Not every parent has affordable housing. Not every parent has an income that allows them to feed their children. Not every parent in this country has the luxury of spending more time with their children, because they have to work two or three jobs in order to make ends meet.

I would say that this is a societal problem and we, as a society, have to address it. Parents play a critical role but so do governments. Let us not blame the very people who are the victims and tell them to fix it themselves.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge right upfront that Bill S-7 does make some changes. It is important to note that it does create some additional offences that would help in certain situations. For example, where there is planning to commit a terrorist attack outside of Canada, our law enforcement agencies would have a little more to go on to potentially prevent a terrorist attack in another country by individuals who might be attempting to leave Canada to commit that offence. I suspect the vast majority of the public would not question the validity and need to have those offences brought into the legislation.

I believe it was a Conservative senator who talked about the bill as being a deterrent. This type of thing I have a difficult time with. This is yet another piece of legislation that the government has brought in and has said that it will be a deterrent.

I would ask my colleague to provide comment on this type of legislation not deterring or preventing someone from committing a crime. It would not cause a person to think twice in terms of committing a terrorist attack. It might enable the police to act or be better equipped to act, but it would not prevent one from committing an attack.

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1:20 p.m.


Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly hope my colleague can see the wisdom in opposing this legislation. After all, he is from a party that introduced the charter, which gives us many of our rights.

To respond to the member's question, there is very little in the bill that would deter terrorists. We have learned, both domestically and internationally, that it would be simplistic to think that changing a few lines in legislation in Parliament would make a terrorist think twice. We just have to think about the acts of terrorism that have horrified us. These people are willing to not only risk their lives, but give up their lives. They are not going to be deterred by the fact that they can be questioned.

However, the bill does attack our basic Canadian rights, our right to freedom of speech and our right to not be imprisoned without a fair trial.

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1:20 p.m.


Pierre Jacob NDP Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her wonderful speech. I agree with her that Bill S-7 creates a false sense of security.

The NDP supports the fight against terrorism. However, if I understand correctly, the government is not investing the necessary resources in our police forces, intelligence agencies, and so on. This bill will thus only serve to camouflage the Conservatives' inaction and pull the wool over Canadians' eyes. What is more, this bill does not respect human rights.

I am a criminologist by training, and I must say that I found it refreshing to hear talk of things like prevention, enhancing Canadians' quality of life, strengthening the social fabric, working on the dropout rate, and investing in education, social services, affordable housing. I liked that.

I would like the hon. member to talk about the real problems that are of concern to Canadians, whether it be the economy, ethics or the environment, In her opinion, what are the real problems that are of concern to Canadians?

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1:20 p.m.


Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, we can sit here and keep debating Bill S-7 and make very little difference, if any, in people's lives and we can keep saying that we have now tackled terrorism, when we know this is not going tackle terrorism, or we could be dealing with issues that really matter to Canadians.

I have had the privilege of travelling across the country and going to different communities. As much as people are concerned about a huge number of issues, there are some basic issues that they get down to. They care about having a universal health care system that is functional and that meets their needs. They care about having an economy that is sustainable and that grows decent paying jobs here instead of sending our resources overseas or instead of bringing in temporary foreign workers to whom we pay a lot less without making those jobs available to Canadians.

They also care very deeply about education. They are very concerned about our youth. I do not know if it is because I am teacher and that is why they always talk to me about education, but wherever I go, people always to talk about what we will do to invest in our children. The best way to invest in our children is through education and developing preventive programs.

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1:20 p.m.


Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start my speech by thanking my NDP colleagues who have given excellent speeches before me today about Bill S-7.

I was not very familiar with this bill and so I took the time to do some in-depth research yesterday in order to better understand its objective. I spent some time learning about the UN counter-terrorism committee and researched its activities. We are a member of this committee and work a great deal with it. On its Internet site, I found the Technical Guide to the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1373, adopted in 2001 following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. This guide was prepared by the counter-terrorism committee executive directorate. It is an extremely interesting and substantial document that contains a number of suggestions for member countries on how to effectively fight terrorism throughout the world.

I examined the most effective means of fighting terrorism. I am repeating this term because it stands out the most in this document.

In reviewing chapter 2, I was struck by two points which I found to be very important and which the government has unfortunately not addressed. I am referring to section 2 on eliminating the supply of weapons to terrorists and section 10 on effective border controls. My colleague from Brome—Missisquoi will probably agree with me that we currently have a serious problem with border control.

This week there was a very serious incident in British Columbia during which a border services officer was shot at our border. That is very serious. In Brome—Missisquoi, Compton—Stanstead and Montreal's entire south shore, which borders the United States, there have been reports of many illegal crossings lately. I heard that last night, 11 people crossed this border illegally. This is a rather glaring problem that could be very serious for our national security. Refugees enter our country. We are here to welcome them and we must treat them in accordance with the international treaties we have signed.

There is something that worries me more—my colleagues have talked about this at length—and that is the smuggling of drugs, tobacco products and illegal firearms. This is very serious. Like many of my colleagues, I have met with border services officers, including those near Sherbrooke. They told me things that are extremely difficult to hear. They told me that they do not have time to search everyone and that they have to work quite quickly sometimes because they are understaffed and do not have enough resources to do their jobs properly.

That is sad to hear. We are currently debating a bill to combat terrorism when, according to the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee's technical guide, we have other problems that require our immediate attention. If our border is porous, then we face a very serious threat of terrorism.

I would suggest to the government across the way that it re-examine its priorities and address the existing problem with our border security. That is my first point. A number of my colleagues could elaborate on what is happening on the ground.

The government across the way cut the border services' budget by $146 million. That is extremely serious for our national security. The union said that 260 front-line jobs would be cut in Quebec alone. That is extremely serious because it has a direct impact on our national security and our fight against terrorism.

Combating Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The hon. member will have about 15 minutes to finish her speech when debate resumes.

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

1:30 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The hon. member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant is not present in the House to move the motion for second reading of Bill C-429, An Act to amend the Radiocommunication Act and the Telecommunications Act (antenna systems), as announced in today's notice paper. Accordingly, the bill will be dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

It being 1:31 p.m., the House stands adjourned until next Monday at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 1:31 p.m.)