Mr. Speaker, as always, it is a great honour to stand in the House representing the people of Timmins—James Bay, who put their trust in me to speak for them.
I am very pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-44. This is the first time I have spoken in the House in debate since the brutal attack at the cenotaph and the attack on Parliament Hill. I would like to begin by reflecting a little of what I experienced on that terrible day.
I certainly experienced a sense of relief when I found that we were safe. I experienced thankfulness for the incredible security people who literally put their lives on the line to make sure that we were safe. I felt an enormous sense of pride—not a bullish beating of the chest pride, but a quiet pride—watching the Canadians around me who went about their day unafraid and helped each other. It reminded me that no matter what our differences in this nation are, there is a sense of community that will not be intimidated.
The last thing I felt that day was a real anger, an anger that the House of the people had been desecrated by violence. I felt it when I went out in the early morning about 5 a.m. and went to the cenotaph and saw a crime scene tape. I was very angry that such a symbol of who we are as a nation could be cut off from us and suddenly become a crime scene of mindless, hateful violence. It made me feel very angry.
When we reflect on how we deal with this kind of violence, it is incumbent upon us to take that sense of anger, that sense of pride, that sense of relief, and step back and ask ourselves what the Canadian people expect from us to ensure that they are safe. We are dealing with some very complex issues that are now being thrust before us.
Bill C-44 is not a response to what happened last week. This is a bill that has been on the order paper for some time, and it is important to look at it in that light. There are certainly specific elements that will need to be examined clearly, which is why we want the bill to go forward to committee.
One aspect is the international role of CSIS in in spying on and maintaining coverage of potential perpetrators who may be overseas. Certainly we see the issue of radicalization of people who have gone overseas, but this is a question that does confront the House, and we need to address it.
We know that CSIS has been found to have breached the courts and the laws of our land on numerous occasions, as reported in the 2007 Hape decision. In 2008, Justice Blanchard found that section 12 of the CSIS act did not contain extraterritorial provisions with respect to covert intelligence. In 2013, Justice Mosley said that the practice of seeking warrants for foreign surveillance was not legal. Therefore, the bill needs to look at how the actions of CSIS will be done within a legal frame.
To put this in context, maintaining legal provisions that will protect the Canadian people has to be seen in terms of the resources that exist or do not exist to follow through on whatever laws we bring forth.
There is also the issue of oversight. The issue of oversight means that when we debate laws in this country to offer police more tools, we make sure that these tools are being applied where they were intended and that they are not opening the door to all manner of warrantless intervention in the lives of ordinary Canadians.
In terms of oversight, the government has a fundamental problem. The government may feel that CSIS needs the tools and that CSIS has to be the front-line fighter in terms of international terrorism, but the oversight mechanisms have been abysmal.
The Prime Minister appointed Arthur Porter, a notorious international criminal who is sitting in a jail in Panama, to sit on the oversight body of CSIS. I would think that Canadians who witnessed the attacks last week would not be comfortable knowing that the man who was supposed to be making sure that our spy agency followed the laws and had the tools necessary was now sitting in a Panamanian jail on all manner of charges and allegations.
The replacement for him was Chuck Strahl, a former minister in the House. We found later that he was acting as a lobbyist for Enbridge at a time when CSIS was apparently spying on anti-Enbridge activists. There is damage to credibility here.
Maher Arar was sent to a foreign jurisdiction, wrongly, and tortured. He was an innocent man. One of the recommendations from the Arar report was to have better oversight of these provisions. This oversight is important in making sure there are no more cases like Maher Arar's, cases of people who are innocent but are in the wrong place at the wrong time and are rendered because the feeling of the day is that we do not need to follow the rule of law. The rule of law is essential. It keeps us separate from the kinds of bandits who want to attack who we are as a nation.
In terms of resources, the government is cutting $687.9 million from its overall security in the coming years, and $180 million is being cut from border security. Telling us it is going to get tougher in terms of protecting us while at the same time limiting the resources being used to protect us certainly raises questions about the government's overall credibility.
There is the recent Privacy Commissioner's ruling on the RCMP and its warrantless access provisions. The RCMP does not even have an ability to track how it is gathering information and under what circumstances it is gathering it.
Do we need to look at rules that may provide better tools to go after potential threats? That is certainly the discussion we should have. However, when every 72 seconds we have a request made to a telecom by a government agency that wants personal information on Canadians, that is certainly not within justification.
The fact is, contrary to what the Prime Minister said, the killers of Warrant Officer Vincent and Corporal Cirillo were not killers who washed up on our shores, as we were told last week. These were home-grown Canadian men. The Prime Minister said that our international allies would be standing with us as we went after the men who brutally killed Corporal Cirillo. Where were our international allies when he was going into a McDonald's with a stick, trying to get himself arrested?
Clearly, the rhetoric does not match the reality here. The reality is that we are not talking about what happens when people fall through the cracks and become increasingly marginalized. We had the snow plough killer and the bus beheader. We have people who, in mental instability, do terrible, brutal crimes. In the case of Zehaf-Bibeau, we were glad that the RCMP was able to seize his passport to prevent him from going anywhere else, but he was not on their terror watch list because he was considered mentally unstable. We need to understand that if we are to respond to the brutal crimes we saw, we must put provisions in place that protect us.
In terms of Bill C-44, the reasonable step here is to move it to committee to see what provisions CSIS needs to deal with international radicalization, especially in the case of someone who is trying to go to a place like Syria or Iraq to engage in the murderous activities there. What provisions would still be within the laws of our country? What oversight will be there to ensure that CSIS does not abuse its function within Canada? What role will we take, as a federal House of Commons, to address the fact that there is clearly a problem when Canadian men, born and bred in our country, can fall so far from the norm that they can pick up any kind of murderous death cult ideology because of all manner of instability, drugs, broken lives, and the fact they were living on the streets?
There are other people out there who may be in that same situation, whether they identify themselves as radical or not. What provisions are we going to put in place to ensure public security?
This is a long, ongoing discussion that we need to have in the House. However, we need to have it within the context of figuring out what works, what resources are in place, and what will maintain the overall standards we have for the rule of law in our country and the fact that we are an open, democratic, and unafraid society.