Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank my outstanding hon. colleague for Richmond Hill for sharing his time with me and also for his hard work on this file. It is an important file, and I am pleased to be on the public safety committee. It is also my pleasure to rise today in the House to debate Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism act, 2015.
We find that the world we live in today is a dark and dangerous place. This was most brutally demonstrated by last October's attacks in Ottawa and in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. We are not immune to the threat of terrorism, nor are our allies. We have tragically seen this in Paris, Sydney, and Copenhagen, beacons of western civilization struck by jihadist terrorists. Let us make no mistake: the international jihadist movement has declared war on Canada and her allies.
The legislation before us today would provide Canadian law enforcement and national security agencies with additional tools and the flexibility to keep pace with evolving threats and better protect Canadians here at home.
However, that is not all we are doing. It is important to fight terrorism at home, but we are also fighting it abroad. Our brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces are engaged in a battle with the barbaric so-called Islamic State.
In line with the measures taken by our allies, the government is taking additional action to ensure that our law enforcement and national security agencies can counter those who advocate terrorism, prevent terrorism from travelling, prevent the efforts of those who seek to use Canada as a recruiting ground, and disrupt planned attacks on Canadian soil.
The proposed legislation includes checks and balances to ensure it respects the rights of Canadians and complements other legislation passed by our Conservative government in order to better protect Canadians and secure institutions. These measures include the Combating Terrorism Act and the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act. However, I would be remiss if I did not note that the Liberals and the NDP have consistently voted against these types of measures for increasing our national security.
We have heard from both the Liberals and the NDP that they believe more money ought to be invested in CSIS and the RCMP. I find it interesting that when our Conservative government brought forward more funding for these agencies for parliamentary approval, on seven separate occasions the Liberals and NDP voted against this funding.
I would like to look at the facts. The fact is that our Conservative government has increased funding to both CSIS and the RCMP by over one-third since forming government. We will hold that record up any day of the week.
Much has been made by the NDP of portions of the anti-terrorism act that relate to disrupting terrorist threats. I would like to give some concrete examples of how these powers would help keep Canadians safe.
One example would be if a 21-year-old Canadian citizen had become disenchanted with his home life due to videos of sermons given by radical imams. He has additionally sought to acquire copies of Inspire, the English-language magazine published by al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula. Individuals with this local mosque have advised CSIS that he is planning to travel overseas to engage in terrorist activity.
Currently, CSIS can investigate but cannot do anything to stop the individual from travelling. The furthest CSIS could go is to advise the RCMP that it believes he is about to commit an offence, and the RCMP could launch its own investigation. However, under Bill C-51, CSIS would be able to engage with a trusted friend or relative who could speak to this individual and advise against travelling for terrorist purposes. Further, CSIS would be able to meet with the individual to advise him that they know what he is planning to do and what the consequences of taking further action would be.
Another example would be if CSIS learned that a planned shipment of chemicals might be used in a terrorist attack on a Canadian business operating in a foreign country, but the exact timing was not known. Currently CSIS can share that information with the foreign government and other foreign partners. A travel alert could potentially be issued by Foreign Affairs. Under Bill C-51, CSIS could engage in a joint operation with a foreign partner to disrupt the shipment. For example, the shipment could be rerouted so that it would not be delivered into the hands of terrorists.
Lastly, let us say a Canadian ally warns CSIS that foreign spies are planning to meet with a Canadian avionics firm. CSIS investigates and determines that the spies are posing as businessmen in order to purchase telemetry equipment. This dual-use technology has a civilian application in test programs, but it is also used in ballistic missile targeting.
Currently CSIS, as part of its investigation, can interview officials from the Canadian company to gather information. CSIS can ask the CBSA to check the parts' paperwork at the time of export to determine if there are customs violations.
Under Bill C-51, CSIS could seek and receive a warrant to intercept equipment and alter it so that it would not have any suitability for non-civilian applications.
With this new mandate, CSIS could take measures at home and abroad to disrupt threats when it had reasonable grounds to believe there was a threat to the security of Canada. These threats to the security of Canada are defined in the CSIS Act and include espionage, sabotage, foreign-influenced activities, terrorism, and domestic subversion, which refers to activities directed against the constitutionally established system of government in Canada.
CSIS would only be able to take reasonable and proportional measures to disrupt threats. To do this, CSIS would consider the nature of the threat, the nature of the proposed measures, and the reasonable availability of other means to disrupt the threat. The intelligence services of most of Canada's democratic allies have had similar mandates and powers for many years.
It is important not to misconstrue definitions under the security of Canada information sharing act and the CSIS Act. The threat disruption mandate covers threats as defined in the CSIS Act, namely espionage, sabotage, foreign-influenced activities, terrorism, and domestic subversion.
CSIS is strictly prohibited from undertaking threat disruption activities against individuals engaged in lawful protest or dissent.
I know my time is probably running short and I would like to end my remarks today with a question. Opposition members like to say that this bill will somehow take away rights from Canadians. I would like someone on the other side of the House to explain to me where this legislation authorizes that. As far as I can tell, the only people this legislation will impact are those engaged in terrorist activities, those planning to become engaged in terrorist activities, and those who are advocating terrorist activities. If those are the types of individuals the NDP and Liberals are choosing to defend, I suspect Canadians will have a strong message for them in the next election.