House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was csec.

Topics

Canada Elections ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeMinister of State (Democratic Reform)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the following reports of the Canadian Delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation in the following meetings: the Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance that was held in Ottawa from May 5 to 7, 2013; the 67th annual meeting of the Council of State Governments, Southern Legislative Conference, that was held in Mobile, Alabama, the United States of America, from July 27 to 31, 2013; the Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance conference that was held in Washington, D.C., United States of America, from October 6 to 8, 2013; and, finally, the 53rd Annual Meeting and Regional Policy Forum of the Council of State Governments, Eastern Regional Conference, that was held in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, the United States of America, from December 6 to 9, 2013.

Chemical PesticidesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Newmarket—Aurora Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of constituents in Newmarket—Aurora, who are concerned about a new class of pesticides and are asking the government to ban the use of these pesticides for the period of a year for study.

Last Federal ElectionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be presenting two motions today.

The first petition concerns the fraud committed during the last federal election.

The petitioners in this case are from the Vancouver area, and they are asking the House assembled to do everything possible to get to the bottom of the question of what took place in the misleading attempt for what are now called robocalls, some of which were live calls.

Rouge National ParkPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from residents throughout the GTA. I am very honoured to join with other MPs because yesterday was international wetlands protection day. This is a petition that calls specifically for action to ensure the ecological integrity of the Rouge National Park. I think all MPs are thrilled with the efforts of the current administration to create a national park in the Rouge. The petitioners want to ensure that the park includes the 100-square kilometres of sensitive area and particularly ensure that there is a corridor that protects the forests of the area.

TaxationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition about the enactment of Bill C-201. The member for Hamilton Mountain has introduced Bill C-201, which would allow tradespersons and indentured apprentices to deduct travel and accommodation expenses from their taxable incomes, so they can secure and maintain employment at construction sites that are more than 80 kilometres from their homes. This is signed by many petitioners from my riding and local ridings, who are all in favour of this.

AsbestosPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present today a petition that has been signed by literally tens of thousands of Canadians, who call upon the House of Commons to take note that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer that the world has ever known. In fact, more Canadians now die from asbestos than all other industrial or occupational causes combined. They call upon Canada to ban asbestos in all of its forms, and to end all government subsidies of asbestos, both in Canada and abroad, and to stop blocking international health and safety conventions designed to protect workers from asbestos, such as the Rotterdam Convention.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

February 4th, 2014 / 10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Communications Security Establishment CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

moved:

That the House express its deep concern over reports that Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) has been actively and illegally monitoring Canadians and call on the government to immediately order CSEC to cease all such activities and increase proper oversight of CSEC, through the establishment of a National Security Committee of Parliamentarians as laid out in Bill C-551, An Act to establish the National Security Committee of Parliamentarians.

Mr. Speaker, I am most pleased to take lead off in this debate. I will not reread the motion, other than to say that the motion is critical of what we believe to be the illegal monitoring of Canadians by CSEC and that the House sees that issue as such.

Secondly, it is to propose a solution, which is better oversight in Canada of our intelligence gathering agencies. We are the only country in the so-called “five eyes” that does not have an agency of parliamentarians that provides that oversight in a proactive way.

The purpose of this debate is twofold. The first is to draw attention to the very possible, at worst, illegal activities, and at best questionable activities, of the Communications Security Establishment, or CSEC, and the government's response to the obvious excessive behaviour of our intelligence services. Second, it is to outline for Canadians the proposal for the creation of a proactive oversight body of parliamentarians of our security and intelligence agencies and organizations.

I would like to put on the record that the structure of such an oversight body was developed by members of the House and the Senate. Among those who participated in the creation of this proposed oversight agency were the current Minister of Justice and the current Minister of State for Finance. At the time, they were members of the opposition, and along with you, Mr. Deputy Speaker of the House, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, we were all a part of that committee that made that recommendation.

To be clear, what is proposed in the legislation, brought forward as Bill C-551, is the result of a non-partisan initiative. It was neither a government nor an opposition party effort. We in this place were all involved, and I will come to that later in my remarks.

However, allow me to come back to why the need for such oversight has become an urgent matter for Canadians. According to media reports and Snowden documents, as has been reported in the media, CSEC has been, and apparently continues to be, actively intercepting and retaining information related to individuals, Canadians and otherwise, who are transiting through major Canadian airports. That is where that information has been gathered. We are led to believe that this activity was done without the co-operation of the airports involved.

I think Wesley Wark, who is the visiting professor with the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, at the University of Ottawa, summed it up best. I will go to a document that he prepared and quote what he states in that document, the CSEC defence of its airport metadata project:

CSEC issued a statement on January 30, 2014, immediately following the reporting of the Airport Wi-Fi project document by CBC. That statement noted, “CSEC is legally authorized to collect and analyze metadata”.

That statement, according to Mr. Wark, may be misleading, insofar as there is no independent and external legal authorization for CSEC's metadata activities. There is no special court similar to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that has authorized CSEC metadata. All one can say is that CSEC metadata activities are conducted under a secret ministerial directive and in accordance with secret Department of Justice interpretations of the application of the provision of CSEC's legislative mandate. There is no internal legal interpretation of whether CSEC is able to collect and analyze metadata that has ever been made public.

I think Mr. Wark lays out the issue and the concern.

Yesterday in this House, and on Friday as well, several MPs from opposition parties raised questions with the Minister of National Defence on this particular issue. His answers, as all who listened know, were not very forthcoming. He fell back on the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner for cover, and basically said, in a number of different words, that CSEC operated within the law, using the words “continues to act lawfully”.

In terms of what the commissioner said, I say to the minister, “Not so fast. Maybe. Maybe not”.

When we go to the last report of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner, the report for 2012-13, presented to the minister in June of last year, the commissioner says, on page 20, under “Findings and Recommendations”:

However, a small number of records suggested the possibility that some activities may have been directed at Canadians, contrary to law. A number of CSEC records relating to these activities were unclear or incomplete. After in-depth and lengthy review, I was unable to reach a definitive conclusion about compliance or non-compliance with the law.

There is a concern. The Communications Security Establishment Commissioner raises that concern in his report.

It should be also noted that when Mr. Chuck Strahl, the former chair of SIRC, which is the oversight agency for CSIS, who has now stepped down—we will not to get into the reasons why he stepped down, but I will say that I do think he was a good chair for that committee—appeared before the national security and defence committee of the Senate, on December 9, 2013, this is what he had to say:

What we're finding, increasingly is that CSIS is having to engage other partners in order to get the information they want. We can examine anything that CSIS does. What we have highlighted and made note of is that we are increasingly nervous or wary of the fact that you come up to an imaginary wall, if you will, where we examine everything that CSIS does, but now it involves other departments. It might involve a no-fly list. It night involve CBSA or CSEC, and so on, but our authority extends only to CSIS in our review process. So I think the committee is, and the government would be, wise to look at—and it's a modern reality—how we can make sure that we don't, when we're chasing a thread and trying to make sure that Canadians' rights are being protected, run up into the legislative wall of saying, “Well, yes, but you can only look at CSIS, even if the new thread continues on into CSEC,” as an example. That is one thing I would encourage you to think about.

There was a worry there, on the part of Mr. Strahl.

Yesterday, because of the publicity around this issue and the concerns of Canadians, we had the Prime Minister's security advisor, a man who many of us in this place did not even know, and the heads of CSIS and CSEC, called before the Senate committee over this very issue.

Mr. Rigby spoke, and I listened to his remarks, as I was at the committee, of how broad and global security matters are now. We understand that. We understand that security is an important file.

However, we also have to understand the counterbalance: how important the privacy of Canadians is.

In response to questions from the chair, Senator Lang, about the Wi-Fi airport metadata, Mr. Rigby said, “It is data about data”. He said that several times, “It is data about data”. Well what does that mean? Stating that it is data about data leaves the impression that there is not much to worry about. Anybody who reads history knows how those with power and authority can gain personal information and use it for ulterior motives. We do not want to see that happen in this country.

Let me turn to this metadata issue. Many of us do not understand what “It is data about data” means. The best information on that really comes from the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner, Ms. Ann Cavoukian. She produced an article for the Big Surveillance Demands Big Privacy conference that was held about a week ago. I will cite a fair bit of that article, published on July 17 of last year, because we need to understand that metadata is not just data about data. Metadata is much bigger and could be much more intrusive into Canadians' lives. Indeed, the BlackBerry or cellphone of some member on the other side may have been one of those surveyed, when going through the airport. Do people want to know where he or she went? Did they want to follow that thread? That is worrisome.

Ms. Cavoukian stated:

Senior government officials have defended the seizure of our personal information on the basis that “it's only metadata.” They claim that gathering metadata is neither sensitive nor privacy-invasive since it does not access any of the content contained in associated phone calls or emails.

She went on to say:

Metadata is information associated with other information—generated by our smartphones, personal computers and tablets. This information can reveal the time and duration of your communications, the particular devices used, email addresses or numbers contacted, and at what locations. Since virtually every device has a unique identifying number, all of your communications and Internet activities may be linked together and traced, with relative ease.

The digital trail can reveal a great deal about you as an individual. Information about where you live, work, travel, what you purchase online, who you associate with, even what time you go to sleep, wake up and leave home.

Government surveillance programs, however, gather and analyze our metadata for different purposes. Armed with this data, the state has the power to instantaneously create a detailed digital profile of the life of anyone swept up in such a massive data seizure. Once this data is compiled and examined, detailed pictures of individuals begin to emerge. The data can reveal your political or religious affiliations, as well as your personal and intimate relationships.

She goes on from there, but that is the important point.

I have to ask a question for the government representatives. Is metadata really just data? Is it data about data?

What worries me is that maybe Big Brother is just sitting to the right of the Speaker. That is worrisome, if Big Brother with the current government gets out of hand.

In a press release, the Minister of Natural Resources said:

Unfortunately, there are environmental and other radical groups that would seek to block this opportunity to diversify our trade....

These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.

Are they environmental radicals or are they just citizens who are protesting?

In the early seventies, when there were blacklists created from some organizations in this country, I happened to be in one of those organizations. Those threats are real. In today's information age, we cannot let this get out of hand. We have to worry that security is not used to cross the line into privacy matters.

I want to make another point on the conference I attended, with respect to the statements by Andrew Clement, who is the co-founder of the Identity, Privacy and Security Institute. He said in his remarks that so much Canadian data passes through the United States in this day and age. He explained that if we were in a downtown Toronto office sending a packet of information across the street to another office, with the three major telecom companies, that information does not just cross the street. Rather, it goes from Toronto, to New York, to Chicago, and back to Toronto; so other authorities can pick up that information, analyze it, and see what we are up to. There is a lot to worry about here. We do not want to scare people, but the reality is that something could be going on that should not be going on.

Let me now turn to the proposed legislation. However, there is one other point I should make before I go there.

Canadians have a right to expect that their government and government agencies act legally and that their right to privacy is respected. In the case of CSEC, we are faced with an agency that has enormous powers to intrude upon the lives of all Canadians and those who are visiting the country. The appearance of three very powerful folks before the Senate committee yesterday is a case in point. Those faces are not known by Canadians, yet they could be involved in our everyday lives in many ways. However, we must not forget that they also do a great service for Canadians in protecting our security as a nation.

Therefore, I believe that we in this place have a duty to ensure that our intelligence-gathering agencies are acting within the law and that we also have the assurance from the government that there has been no abuse of the authority granted to the minister under the provisions of the National Defence Act.

I see I am running out of time so I will make this last point. What is proposed here is an oversight agency made up of parliamentarians. We are the only country in the western world that does not have a proactive oversight agency. The proposed legislation has come out of an all-party committee that travelled to London, Washington, and Australia to look at their oversight agencies. Parliamentarians would have to take the Privy Council oath, would have to maintain that secret, and would have access to classified information to ensure Canadians, in a proactive way, that our intelligence-gathering agencies are operating within the law and not above or around the law. It is important that we do that. I call upon government members to take this opportunity to take action to ensure that our security agencies are operating as they should, not with a review after the fact but by holding parliamentarians responsible for doing their duty to ensure that intelligence-gathering agencies are abiding by the law. That bill is there right now. The government can pick it up and we can ensure that it is implemented.

Opposition Motion—Communications Security Establishment CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Selkirk—Interlake Manitoba

Conservative

James Bezan ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it was interesting listening to our friend from Malpeque speak this morning. He was talking about needing parliamentary oversight, and we saw an example of parliamentary oversight last night in the Senate. The Senate committee pulled in three major people involved with security intelligence in this country, collecting signals and interpreting things that are taking place around the world and ensuring we are protected here in Canada.

The member is calling for more parliamentary oversight, yet Parliament has always had the ability to have these individuals appear before committee. I sit on the national defence committee, and CSEC is one of the agencies that is responsible under the Department of National Defence. Our committee has the power at any point in time to call on those people who are appointed either as the chief or commissioner of Communications Security Establishment Canada. We can call them in to talk about budget and activities.

It is all there for Parliament to take on that role, so what the member is asking for already exists.

On top of that, we have a commissioner who is a supernumerary judge. We also had at one point a former Supreme Court justice who knows the law and has the ability to circumvent and look at all the data that is being collected.

Last year, they looked at every single case where Canadians may have been accidentally brought into intelligence gathering and that was reviewed by the commissioner to ensure that their privacy rights were protected. In every single case last year they said that it was within the law. So it is rich that the Liberals are bringing forward this motion.

Opposition Motion—Communications Security Establishment CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The member has now taken up two minutes of the ten-minute question and answer period. Could he pose a question rather than make a speech, please? He will have the opportunity to make a speech in a few minutes.

Opposition Motion—Communications Security Establishment CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is questions and comments, and so I can speak as well.

I was just saying to my friend that, as he saw last night, Parliament has the full ability to pull in the chief heads of our security regulatory agencies. That exists right now. On this side of the House we have the Standing Committee on National Defence and the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, and we have independent oversight with commissioners who are experts. I would ask the member to comment on that.

Opposition Motion—Communications Security Establishment CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I will try to be shorter than the two minutes.

The independent oversight is clearly after the fact, and it is time parliamentarians accepted their responsibility.

This legislation that is now a private member's bill was tabled by the government of the day in 2004-05. It was tabled by the then public security minister. There was a recognition on the part of that public security minister that there indeed has to be parliamentary oversight.

The current Minister of Justice sat on that committee, as did you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Whatever happened to that Minister of Justice? Why did he get fearful of doing the right thing in terms of ensuring that we have proper oversight of these intelligence-gathering agencies?

The parliamentary secretary can talk, but there were a lot of questions not answered at that Senate committee yesterday or at a parliamentary committee, because we cannot talk about classified information. However, if we had a group of parliamentarians who swear the oath and have the responsibility to check out these things, we can in fact do that.

Maybe the parliamentary secretary can answer this in his remarks when he gets up. Can he tell us the details of why the metadata was collected on Canadians going through Canadian airports? Were there any MPs involved, in terms of their data being collected?

These are some of the questions we need answered, and we need to absolutely ensure the privacy of Canadians. The way to do that is to set up an oversight committee with responsibilities.

Opposition Motion—Communications Security Establishment CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence certainly knows the difference between asking questions at a parliamentary hearing and true parliamentary oversight, particularly when it comes to national security concerns. They need insight and access to information, secret information sometimes, to do proper oversight.

I want to ask a question to the proposer of the motion, because we are getting explanations from the government that, for example, there was no targeting of Canadians in this exercise at the airport and no Canadians were being tracked. How is that meaningful when it seems that everyone who used a cellphone at that airport was actually having his or her data collected as to what it was and who it was? Everyone was being tracked, or rather, it was not them; just the cellphone was being tracked. It just happened to be in someone's pocket. How is it meaningful to get responses like that from the minister of the crown and from the person who is supposed to be exercising that oversight on behalf of Canadians?

Opposition Motion—Communications Security Establishment CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I personally cannot understand the answer from government members. In my explanation of how the Privacy Commissioner for Ontario explains metadata, it is information. It is not the text of the individuals. As she goes on to say:

Once this data is compiled and examined, detailed pictures of individuals begin to emerge. The data can reveal your political or religious affiliations, as well as your personal and intimate relationships.

I would say it goes beyond that.

One of the worst decisions the government made was killing the long form census in terms of it being compulsory. That is metadata, to a great extent. It provides information in a general sense. However, this data being collected can infringe on the privacy of Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Communications Security Establishment CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two questions. One is in reaction to what we heard from the government side. If having a committee in either House were sufficient, how would my colleague explain the fact that the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, and Great Britain all have committees to do the same thing but still have an oversight capacity for parliamentarians? I am just a little baffled, because it is necessary to have parliamentarians in an oversight committee that has a particular mandate by law, given by Parliament, to indeed oversee. We are not there at all, even with the actions of the Senate committee or the House committee.

Second, we have heard that the airport authorities where this was done were not aware that it was being done. How do we know that other free Wi-Fi zones in the country are not also being tapped into, such as in hotels, restaurants, cafés, and so forth and that Canadians all over the place are providing their metadata to CSEC without them knowing about it?

Opposition Motion—Communications Security Establishment CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, to answer the second question first, how do we know? We do not. We might know if further Snowden releases come out. It may be provided in some of that information. However, now that the government has admitted what the Snowden release said relative to the collection of data in at least one airport in the country, it tells us that it is time to worry. It is time, as a Parliament, to protect the private information of Canadians.

On his first question, as I said in my remarks, the current Minister of Justice sat on that same committee as you and I, Mr. Speaker. He was probably the strongest member, gung ho. He said that we had to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of having an oversight agency made up of parliamentarians. What has happened since? He became a minister of the crown.

It makes no sense to me that other democracies—Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and the United States—have proper parliamentary oversight, and Canada, 10 years after that report was originally tabled as government legislation, still does not. It is time to act. Let us act now.

Opposition Motion—Communications Security Establishment CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Selkirk—Interlake Manitoba

Conservative

James Bezan ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety.

I am pleased to speak on the unique history of the Communications Security Establishment Canada and the vital role it has played in working with its partners to help keep Canada safe. Over the course of its existence, CSEC has grown from a small unit to a vital organization at the heart of Canada's security and intelligence community.

To achieve the important work it undertakes, CSEC has a staff of approximately 2,100 employees. Let me say that again. It has 2,100 employees. They do not have the capability to sit there and listen to every phone call and every email that is going over the airwaves, through Wi-Fi, on broadband, and across cyberspace every single second. CSEC does have sophisticated computers and tools that it employs in doing its work. It also has a staff with specialized skill sets, including engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists, and linguists.

However, as the House may know, Communications Security Establishment Canada's beginnings stretch back to World War II. Its forerunner, the Examination Unit, was Canada's first civilian office solely dedicated to the encryption and decryption of communication signals. Prior to 1941, signals intelligence, or SIGINT, as it was known then, was entirely within the purview of the military.

At the beginning of the Second World War, the Canadian Armed Forces were already collecting ciphered signals from enemy military and foreign mission communications traffic. Canadian military intercepts of enemy signals were used mostly to locate enemy positions and movements. Such information was shared with our British and American allies.

It was with the Nazi occupation of France that Canada was encouraged by its allies to put together a civilian office that would decrypt signals traffic content, such as messages from the Vichy government and other military and diplomatic communications. On occasion, depending on the type of communications, some content would be analysed by specialized military SIGINT units. However, it was the newly created civilian Examination Unit that would regularly decipher content and disseminate intelligence to Canadian Foreign Affairs as well as to the allies.

By 1945 the disparate SIGINT collection units of the navy, army, and air force were co-located with the Examination Unit. By the end of the war, these military and civilian units were able to coordinate signals intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination so efficiently that their success was a primary justification for the establishment of a new peacetime Canadian cryptologic agency, known as the Communications Branch of the National Research Council of Canada.

The creation of a peacetime civilian organization allowed for 180 individuals, with highly developed and virtually irreplaceable skills and expertise, to continue the work they were doing during the war, under the direction of the legendary Lt. Col. Edward Drake. This was done with as little disruption as possible to the collaboration that had developed between Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom in sharing signals intelligence.

The CBNRC was renamed the Communications Security Establishment in 1975, and the organization was given its first legislative mandate in 2001, which was contained within the National Defence Act. Of course, in 2001 there was a Liberal government.

The legislative mandate is threefold. First, CSEC collects foreign communication signals intelligence to support government decision-making for national security, defence, and foreign policy. Second, CSEC provides IT security advice, guidance, and services that help secure systems and networks of importance to the government and the information they contain. Finally, it provides technical and operational assistance to federal law enforcement and security agencies under their respective mandates. Here CSEC acts under the legal authority of the requesting agency it is assisting, and it is subject to any restrictions on or conditions of that authority. That includes any applicable warrant issued by the court, and it needs a court warrant.

It is important to note that all of CSEC's activities under this mandate are reviewed by the independent Communications Security Establishment Commissioner.

CSEC's place in government was changed in 2011 to that of a stand-alone agency within the National Defence portfolio. This was to reflect the fact that CSEC evolved into a full member of Canada's security and intelligence community with its security and intelligence role codified in legislation.

I note that prior to becoming a stand-alone agency, information regarding CSEC was included in broader reporting to Parliament through the Department of National Defence. Since becoming a stand-alone agency, CSEC now appears in the main and supplementary estimates as well as in the public accounts, making its financial information more available to parliamentary scrutiny then ever before.

I have given a bit of a history lesson on CSEC. Now I would like to say a few words about how it works with its domestic and international partners.

I can assure my colleagues that despite the civilianzation of Canada's cryptological capabilities following the Second World War and CSEC's change to a stand-alone agency, it has and continues to support Canada's armed forces and our troops on the ground.

As mentioned, the Canadian Armed Forces has been involved with CSEC and its predecessors doing signals intelligence since 1941. This is a unique partnership based on a history of trust and mutually compatible objectives.

Operating under its foreign signals intelligence collection mandate, CSEC supported Canadian military operations throughout and long after the end of the Cold War. This was indeed the case when it came to supporting our troops during our mission in Afghanistan. CSEC has provided intelligence support for the Afghanistan mission to meet a broad array of Government of Canada and military requirements, ranging from force protection to governance. I note with pride that CSEC played a critical role in helping to protect the men and women of our armed forces against threats from insurgents.

CSEC has continued to support the forces in the post-2011 Canadian mission in Afghanistan. Following the November 2010 announcement of a continuing training mission in Afghanistan, CSEC's efforts have been directed to ensuring sustained intelligence support throughout the combat withdrawal period. Of course, CSEC has also provided support to military operations in regions other than Afghanistan, and it will continue to do so whenever our troops may be at risk in the performance of their duties.

Beyond its relationship with the military, as a member of Canada's security intelligence community, CSEC also works closely with a number of other domestic partners, such as the RCMP and CSIS, consistent with its legislative mandate to provide assistance to law enforcement and security agencies. These relationships are vital to CSEC's success and can take the form of intelligence sharing, technical advice, and where appropriate, lawful operational collaboration.

That being said, in all of its activities, CSEC is prohibited from targeting the communications of persons in Canada or of Canadians anywhere in the world under its foreign intelligence and cyberprotection mandates.

Turning now to the international stage, CSEC's closest partnership is multilateral and is referred to as the Five Eyes. This partnership is rooted in our World War II alliance and includes the U.S. National Security Agency, the United Kingdom's Government Communications Headquarters, the Australian Signals Directorate, and New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau.

CSEC receives and shares intelligence with the Five Eyes and when doing so must comply with Canadian law. CSEC cannot ask its international partners to act in a way that circumvents Canadian laws. In turn, its partners cannot ask CSEC to do anything on their behalf that they cannot do on their own under their legal frameworks.

I am pleased to note that in his 2012-13 annual report, the CSE Commissioner noted that CSEC does take measures to protect the privacy of Canadians in what it shares with our international partners. In fact, the commissioner praised CSEC's chief:

...[they] have spared no effort to instill within CSEC a culture of respect for the law and for the privacy of Canadians.... I can say with pride and confidence that CSEC is truly being watched.

CSEC provides valuable foreign intelligence that protects and promotes Canadian interests while also safeguarding the security of Canada from foreign threats and cyberattacks. Throughout its long history, CSEC has contributed significantly to Canada's own security and to that of our allies and has done so in accordance with Canadian laws, including the Privacy Act.

Again, protecting the privacy of Canadians is law, and CSEC follows the letter and the spirit of that law. It has helped to keep Canada safe from foreign threats, has provided lawful assistance to law enforcement and security agencies, and has helped to protect our troops, all the while making the protection and the privacy of Canadians a priority.

Opposition Motion—Communications Security Establishment CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, we all understand that signals intelligence is necessary and that it plays an important role in Canada's international activities and in the defence of our country, and we support that. What we are concerned about, as the hon. member knows, is whether or not they are operating within their mandate, not only in terms of being within the law but also in terms of carrying out appropriate functions.

I find it interesting that when the head of CSEC testified yesterday and was talking about airport surveillance, he said, “No data was collected through any monitoring of the operations of any airport — just part of our normal global collection.” What he is saying now is that they did not track anybody or follow anybody and that they do this all the time. This is part of their normal global collection of data and information.

Does the hon. member not find it disturbing that part of the normal collection of data by CSEC is information emanating from cellphones and iPads and computers within Canada? Does he think that is okay and that it is something Canadians should know and understand is happening all the time?

Opposition Motion—Communications Security Establishment CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, as was noted , when the chiefs of CSEC and CSIS were before the standing committee yesterday, they answered all these allegations and provided assurances that CSEC was acting within its legal authority.

I want to offer a quote. The CSEC commissioner, the Hon. Jean-Pierre Plouffe, a supernumerary judge, based upon that story, issued the following statement. He said:

In June 2013, my predecessor issued a statement referring to CSEC metadata activities. Many reviews of CSEC activities conducted by the Commissioner's office include examination of CSEC's use of metadata. For example, we verify how metadata is used by CSEC to target the communications of foreign entities located outside Canada, and we verify how metadata is used by CSEC to limit its assistance to federal law enforcement and security agencies to what is authorized by a court order or warrant.

The commissioner, of course, is very independent. He has looked at all these allegations and he is confident that CSEC continues to act within the law.

Opposition Motion—Communications Security Establishment CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, the of Ontario has published a letter regarding this issue and is basically calling the federal government to task for its silence on this issue.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the President has announced reforms to the National Security Agency, demonstrating that a free and open society actually needs a proper discourse on the surveillance powers of their intelligence agencies. While that debate is happening in the United States, our government is maintaining what the Privacy Commissioner calls a “wall of silence”.

When clearly the experts are saying otherwise, I want to hear from the parliamentary secretary why the oversight of CSEC by a single commissioner who is appointed by the minister and reports only to the minister would be considered adequate. Why would we want to have a so much weaker oversight mechanism of this agency that reports to the Minister of National Defence than all of our allies have in their countries?

Opposition Motion—Communications Security Establishment CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, the CSEC commissioner is not just one person. It is an office with people working full time with top-level security clearance, and as the commissioner said, “As Commissioner, I am independent of the government and of CSEC, and as such do not take direction from any minister of the crown or from CSEC.”

I will not comment on the capabilities of CSEC or the capabilities of any of our international partners or their activities, but cyberprotection, protection of Canadians, and protection of our troops abroad are paramount to us. They are our responsibilities as parliamentarians, so we need to take light of the fact that the commissioner, who is a supernumerary judge, is making sure that the laws of this land are respected by the security establishment, that it is acting and performing within the mandates it has and not stepping outside those mandates, and is doing the job and being provided proper oversight.

Opposition Motion—Communications Security Establishment CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Scarborough Centre Ontario

Conservative

Roxanne James ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to discuss the important issue of national security and oversight to ensure that Canadian rights and freedoms are protected. I would like to specifically touch on the portion of the motion that deals with parliamentary oversight of national security agencies.

Government has few responsibilities less integral than keeping its citizens safe from outside threats. In fact, our Conservative government takes this responsibility very seriously. That is why we passed the Combating Terrorism Act, which, among other things, makes it illegal for individuals to travel overseas to become radicalized or receive terrorist training. It also gives important new tools to law enforcement.

Shockingly, the opposition party, the NDP, voted against this important legislation. However, we are not here to talk about the past failings of the opposition. We are here to talk about the oversight of national security agencies and activities.

Responsibilities for oversight of CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, rest primarily with the Security Intelligence Review Committee, also known as SIRC for short, which provides an external review mechanism that is arm's length from the government.

In this capacity, SIRC has three key functions: SIRC prepares a certificate attesting to its satisfaction with the CSIS director's annual report; SIRC conducts self-initiated reviews of CSIS activities, reviewing them against legislation and ministerial direction; SIRC also investigates complaints in relation to any CSIS activity, as well as any denial or revocation of a security clearance. SIRC tables a report in Parliament each year summarizing the results of all of the work it has undertaken.

SIRC was created as an independent external review body to ensure that CSIS' extraordinary powers are used legally and appropriately and, therefore, to ensure that Canadian rights and freedoms are protected. This is our government's priority: ensuring Canadians are protected without stepping on civil liberties.

The opposition has raised stories from the CBC as a smoking gun of sorts, purporting to show that there is a mass surveillance state. Nothing could be further from the truth. As one has come to expect from the CBC, the story is simply wrong. Nothing in the documents the CBC has obtained showed that Canadians' communications were targeted, collected, or used, or that travellers' movements were being tracked. In fact, CSEC is prohibited by law from doing precisely what the story alleges.

Let me reiterate that national security organizations, specifically CSIS and CSEC, are subject to independent review by the Security Intelligence Review Committee and the Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner respectively. The review bodies have always found these agencies to work within their legal mandates. That is why this government, our government, will be voting against this motion.

While we are always open to new ideas that will create openness, accountability, and transparency without compromising national security or operational integrity, we are not open to creating duplication and waste. The current oversight and review bodies accomplish rigorous and thorough analysis. Creating a new level of review would either render this work useless or create an over-burdensome paper trail.

I know the Liberals do not like this, because they like duplication. In fact, this is something that Liberals are quite famous for. In the previous Liberal government, the member for Malpeque, who was serving as a Liberal member of Parliament, brought this bill forward. However, it was not actually brought forward for debate. The simple reality is that this type of body would not be as effective as what we currently have.

What we need to do is continue to provide our law enforcement and national security agencies with the tools they need to do their jobs, and while we firmly believe that on this side of the House, the opposition continues to adamantly oppose and obstruct our government's efforts on these important files. In fact, our government passed the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, which will send dangerous foreign nationals who often have ties to listed terrorist organizations back to where they came from. The opposition voted against this common sense measure.

We created the “Wanted by the CBSA” list, the Canada Border Services Agency list, which helped remove over 40 criminals. Some of the worst criminals who are illegally in Canada we have removed from Canada. The opposition opposed this common sense measure.

We increased the number of front-line border guards by 26% in order to help protect our borders and keep Canadians safe, and both the NDP and the Liberals voted against this common sense measure. We also created Canada's first counterterrorism and cybersecurity strategies, and the NDP and Liberals both opposed these measures, which is not surprising, given the Liberals' lack of action on this file when they were in government.

We have invested nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in protecting Canadians from hacking and cyberespionage. The NDP and the Liberals voted against that too. There is virtually no common sense measure to keep Canadians safe that the parties opposite will not oppose.

Therefore, when I hear the member for Malpeque talk about oversight of national security agencies, I cannot help but just shake my head. Really? Rather than working with us to keep Canadians safe and to ensure rights are protected, his party wants to throw up new roadblocks. While I cannot say this is overly surprising from a member of the party whose leader said he would not rule out ending mandatory prison sentences for anyone, I still find it very disappointing.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that CSIS and CSEC are already subject to robust oversight. These independent arm's-length agencies have consistently found that CSIS and CSEC abide by all relevant laws and have not violated the rights of Canadians. We will be opposing this motion, which would seek to create a wasteful and duplicative process for overseeing national security agencies. Instead, our Conservative government will focus on real action to keep Canadians safe and secure in Canada.