Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River.
It gives me great pleasure to stand today and speak to Bill C-44, the protection of Canada from terrorists act. We have heard in these debates that this bill contains amendments to the CSIS Act and technical amendments to the Strengthening Canada's Citizenship Act. My remarks today will focus on the amendments to the CSIS Act and why we are taking steps to give this vital agency the tools it needs to conduct investigations out of Canada related to threats to the security of Canada.
First I would like to speak to the global terrorist threat, the impacts here at home, and the steps Canada is taking to address that threat.
Acts of terror and murder have been carried out across the globe by extremist groups that have no regard for the lives of innocent people. In fact, we have all witnessed in the past weeks that Canada was the victim of two terrorist attacks within the span of one week. Because of radical Islamist terrorism, we lost two fine soldiers: Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who was laid to rest this past weekend.
Terrorists kill people from all walks of life, including people from communities they claim to represent. Significant work has been done over the past decade, in particular since September 11, 2001, to counter terrorist activities. Canada has been a leader in global counterterrorism efforts. We have citizens and civil society organizations representing people of all faiths and beliefs. They work among themselves and with our government to prevent terrorism by building stronger and more resilient communities. All of these measures were captured within the four pillars of Canada's counterterrorism strategy: prevent, detect, deny, and respond. That strategy will serve us well on the difficult road we face ahead as our Canadian Armed Forces engage in a campaign to degrade and destroy the threat that ISIL poses to western civilization.
Indeed, our security agencies have been monitoring groups like al Qaeda and ISIL closely for years. We have taken concrete measures to disrupt and prevent violent and extremist activities. This is a comprehensive approach. While we join our allies in air strikes, we are also taking other measures that are working to help isolate ISIL and deny it and its partners resources, including funds and new recruits.
Let me explain.
As we know, terrorists need money, media access, weapons, and explosives among their resources to sustain themselves. We want to make sure that all groups that would assist terrorist organizations are restricted from doing so. Preventing terrorists from using the global financial system to commit an act of terror is essential in helping to suppress these groups. Therefore, we have certain provisions under the Criminal Code that we can use to deal with the assets and the operations of groups that support terrorist activities. Listing these entities under the Criminal Code is a public means of identifying a group or an individual as being associated with terrorism, and listing carries significant consequences. Once listed, an entity's assets are frozen and may be subject to seizure, restraint, or forfeiture.
Further, it is an offence for Canadians at home or abroad to knowingly participate in or contribute to, directly or indirectly, any activities that facilitate the activities of a listed terrorist entity. We know that terrorist groups are inspiring westerners to take up arms in support of their cause. In order to reach the individuals and guard against these tactics, we work closely with diverse communities, including through cross-cultural round tables on security.
We are working with leaders in communities right across the country to help engage Canadians in a long-term dialogue on matters related to national security, particularly in countering violent extremism. Through the round table, we have reached out to hundreds of respected cultural and religious leaders who have their finger on the pulse of their communities. These leaders have been integral to helping law enforcement and security agencies to address threats and identify the best ways of reaching individuals who may be leaning toward violent behaviour and redirecting them from the paths of radicalization that lead to violence.
However, rapid changes in technology, ease of communications, and the mobility of terrorist travellers have created new and complex challenges for Canada and all our allies as we work to keep our citizens safe.
As in other countries, despite everyone's best efforts, a small but significant number of individuals have left Canada to join terrorist groups in the Middle East. Denying ISIL its new recruits also means using Canadian law to crack down on those so-called extremist travellers. We brought forward the Combating Terrorism Act to make it an offence to leave Canada to take part in terrorist activities, and laws are in place to revoke the passports of Canadians who travel abroad to join extremist groups.
Both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness have stated clearly that our government will continue to look at ways to help our national security agencies to investigate and track the activities of terrorists at our borders and beyond. One of the ways to do this is with the legislation that is before us today, which would amend the existing CSIS Act so that we would be better able to provide CSIS with the tools it needs to investigate threats to the security of Canada wherever those threats occur and ultimately to protect the security of Canadians.
It is important to note that the CSIS Act was created three decades ago. It was the age of the rotary phone, when our world was under the shadow of the Cold War. The act is in need of updates and upgrades that would confirm the authority of CSIS to investigate Canadian extremists and other threats abroad. That is why I urge members to support the bill that is before them.
The protection of Canada from terrorists act would confirm that CSIS has the authority to operate outside of Canada when investigating threats to the security of Canada or when conducting investigations for the purpose of security assessment. It would confirm as well that the Federal Court has the authority to issue warrants authorizing CSIS to conduct activities outside of Canada without regard to the laws of the other states. This new legislation would also reinforce CSIS's statutory authority to investigate threats abroad and that when issuing a warrant, judges would only need to consider relevant Canadian law, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the CSIS Act, and not foreign laws.
Clearly there are a number of ways our government protects the safety and security of Canada against terrorism, but first we must be sure that we have the right tools in place for our security intelligence agencies to do so. There is no time to waste. We must amend the CSIS Act and allow this vital agency to continue its work.
I urge members in this House to join me in supporting this bill.