Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-51, anti-terrorism act, 2015.
First and foremost, my support for the bill is driven by one single overarching principle, that the international jihadist movement has declared war on Canada.
In the bill, the preamble sets out something that is important to note. I will read directly from Bill C-51, which states:
Whereas activities that undermine the security of Canada are often carried out in a clandestine, deceptive or hostile manner, are increasingly global, complex and sophisticated, and often emerge and evolve rapidly;
That is important because as we ask Canadian security intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies across our country to detect, assess, and prevent threats in an ever-evolving global terrorism climate without themselves evolving, it is both unfair to Canadians, unrealistic to the agencies we task with this role, and irresponsible as a government.
Information sharing can provide critical and otherwise unrecognizable links to exclude or include certain individuals, activities, or groups that could pose a threat to the security of Canada. It is not unusual for Canadian security intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies to share information to determine inculpatory or exculpatory evidence that would help them focus their investigations, to prevent or exclude the possibility of a particular activity, group, or individual from participating in those threats.
We have put forward measures to protect Canadians against the jihadist terrorists, as I have said, who have clearly waged a war on Canada. They have done so because they target our society and they hate the values that we represent.
The legislation effectively breaks down silos that exist between government agencies. These silos put Canadians' lives at risk. I think any constituent, mine in particular, would expect that if one branch of government knows information that would be a threat to our security, then naturally that information could be shared with other branches of government.
Currently, it is not a clear case. This legislation seeks to achieve that. Of course, we on this side of the House reject the fundamental argument that is always put forward by the opposition, that every time we talk about security somehow our freedoms are threatened.
We understand that freedom and security go hand in hand and that Canadians expect us, as parliamentarians, to protect both. As I read through the entirety of this bill, all 63 pages of it, there are many checks and balances that I am sure I will be able to talk about as this debate continues. They ensure both the protection and preservation of Canadians' freedoms while at the same time ensuring that security intelligence agencies, our law enforcement agencies, and the multiple departments within the Canadian government that are tasked with Canadians day-to-day security are able to do the job that we expect them to do.
Sometimes I believe that those on the other side of the House forget all of this, but the fundamental fact is that our police and our national security agencies are working to protect our rights and freedoms. That is what jihadist terrorists want to endanger. They want to take that away from us. In essence, the provisions of this bill are designed to do specifically what the opposition is proposing that this legislation is threatening
That being said, of course, it is important that there be a robust accountability structure. In my view, the Canadian model of third party, non-partisan, and independent oversight of our national security agencies is superior to the political intervention in the process that is being suggested by the opposition.
Further, we also know that well-ingrained in this bill are key elements of new legislative authorities that require judicial review and judicial authorization. In other words, in plain language, before any action can be taken, each of the agencies tasked with the responsibilities require show cause. They require warrant authorization, and those warrants require in-depth explanation as to the reasonable and probable grounds that exist to ask for warrants, to ask for intervention, to ask for the mechanisms to disrupt, interrupt, or proceed with investigations to deal with the threats that they face.
Therefore, any characterization by the opposition that this would impede Canadians' rights, when certain sections specifically express the legal requirements to respect that, in my opinion, is the opposition challenging the ability of our courts to exercise their judicial oversight when it comes to assessing the merits, need, and expeditious requirements of anything that law enforcement or security intelligence agencies come to them with. Obviously, I have full confidence that our courts and judiciary can determine, based on the merits, evidence, and information provided by law enforcement agencies on their own, without Parliament trying to intervene.
Additionally, we have heard comments that there are not enough resources to combat terrorist threats in Canada. We have increased the resources that are available to our national security agencies by a third. The Liberals and the NDP have voted against those increases each step of the way. Despite their votes against these increases, of course, our government will continue to ensure that the national security agencies have the resources they need to keep Canada safe, and that includes the legislative resources they require.
There can be no liberty without security, and I will tell members what Canadians feel about this.
Four in five Canadians surveyed by the Angus Reid Institute say that they support this legislation, with 91% in favour of making it illegal to promote terrorism. There are 89% who favour blocking websites that promote terrorism, and 87% support making it easier for law enforcement agencies to add a terror suspect's name to an airline's no-fly list. There are 80% who favour extending the length of time that a terrorist suspect can be detained without charges to seven days from three days; and 81% support giving government departments the authority to share private information, such as passport applications or commercial data, with law enforcement agencies.
It is fairly clear that Canadians understand this legislation. Canadians understand the threats that we face. Canadians understand the roles of law enforcement agencies and security intelligence information. Canadians understand the gaps that currently exist. Canadians also understand the measures we are taking to fill those gaps, to allow Canadians, those agencies, and those groups and organizations that work with those agencies, with an opportunity to engage in this battle without one hand being tied behind their backs.
As I said in my introductory remarks, it is both unfair, unreasonable, and irresponsible for us to expect law enforcement agencies and security intelligence agencies in this country to fight an evolving global terrorism threat without themselves evolving. That makes no sense. We are effectively asking them not to utilize all of the tools and resources that the terrorists are able to utilize in terms of access to information. We are asking them to operate two steps behind in a world that is continually and rapidly changing, effectively, efficiently and harmfully, not only to our nation but to other nations.
It is incumbent upon us to make sure that we are providing our security intelligence and law enforcement agencies with these tools. As I have said, and as is it contained within the bill, there are the necessary protections and preservation of Canadians' freedoms, respect for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, judicial oversight and review, as well as three and four stages of checks and balances.
I think this piece of legislation has struck the right balance between allowing our law enforcement and security agencies to do the job we expect them to do while at the same time ensuring the privacy and protection of the freedoms we enjoy and deeply respect in this country.