Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today to discuss the anti-terrorism act, 2015, or as we know it, Bill C-51.
I am proud to support this legislation. It is important legislation that would keep Canadians safe from jihadi terrorists. It is a part of the puzzle.
The focus of my remarks today is Canadian values.
Some members of the opposition have said that the bill before us today would somehow violate Canadian values, that it would stop protests, and that it would cause the incarceration of aboriginals and environmentalists. These arguments are, of course, nonsense. The vast majority of people who have complained to me about Bill C-51 have never even taken the time to read it. They get their information from the Internet, which is not exactly the font of all knowledge.
If we look at the text of the legislation, in several parts it states clearly, for all those who bothered to read it, that protest, dissent and artistic expression are not to be targeted. They are not to be targeted by any part of this bill. The only thing that is targeted is terrorism.
Let us look at amendments to the Criminal Code regarding the distribution of jihadist propaganda. It says right in the bill that it is about promotion of terrorist offences. These are violent acts that put the lives and property of Canadians in danger.
The opposition has said that we are limiting freedom of speech. Well, freedom of speech does not include promoting the killing of innocents simply because they have not adopted the killer's perverted view of religion. We will never apologize for taking jihadi propaganda out of circulation, and in my view, the opposition should certainly not advocate for retaining it.
Several NDP members have cited an op-ed by some high-tech business owners critical of the bill. I admit that it is nice to see the NDP supporting business in some way, but I digress. I would suggest that if websites providing content, hosting services or other businesses are profiting from the dispersal of this type of horrific material, they should seriously reconsider their business model and lack of commitment to the values that bind us as Canadians.
Let us look at what experts had to say about this portion of the bill.
Ms. Raheel Raza, President of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, said, “legislation is important” to combat radicalization and that we need better tools to track jihadists who travel overseas. She also said:
...unfortunately we are living in a post-9/11 world and times are such that personal information needs to be shared. That's the reality and I don't have a problem with it. ...the larger picture is that of the security and safety of Canada.
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy said, “By beginning to focus on those who “may” commit, you will begin to hold accountable not just the jihadists on the field of armed jihad but the jihadists in the stands who are cheering on the field warriors about to plant an explosive. You will begin to finally hold accountable the neo-jihadists at the pulpits and in the social media who glorify militant Islamism and demonize Canada, Canadians, your protection forces and your government.”
Mr. Ray Boisvert, former assistant director of CSIS said:
I think it will be a very effective tool to get that material off the Internet.
Those are the facts. We must take this material out of circulation. The culture that accepts and normalizes the transmission of material like “kill the infidels wherever they may be” is not compatible with Canadian values. The fact that members of the opposition reject this common sense argument is simply astounding. These types of comments coming from the NDP, and the Liberals to some extent, simply underline the fundamental difference in how we approach the protection of Canadians and Canadian values.
The Liberals, who I believe are going to support the bill, have said that revoking the passports of those who are seeking to travel for the purposes of committing acts of terrorism runs against Canadian values. Well, for me, a Canadian value is not cutting off the head of those one disagrees with, like the so-called Islamic State.
If the Liberals reject that value comparison, I guess that speaks for itself. However, I suspect it is not terribly surprising that the Liberal Party may have such a shallow view of legislation to protect national security. After all, this is the same party whose leader made juvenile phallic quips about the size of CF-18s during the debate on sending our young women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces into battle in Iraq and Syria.
The NDP members are certainly no better. They have voted to allow terrorists to travel overseas to engage in terrorism without criminal consequence. They have voted against allowing victims of terrorism to receive compensation, and they have voted seven times against increasing resources for the RCMP and CSIS.
This is a shameful record that Canadians will remember for quite some time. We have not listened to them and we are taking action to dramatically increase the resources available for the RCMP, CSIS and SIRC.
The fact of the matter is that the international jihadist movement has declared war on Canada. Canadians are being targeted by jihadi terrorists simply because these terrorists hate our society and the values it represents and the actions we have taken to protect the people who share our values.
Jihadi terrorism is not a human right; it is an act of war. That is why our government has put forward measures to protect Canadians against jihadi terrorists who seek to destroy the very principles that make Canada the best country in the world to live in. It is also why Canada is not sitting on the sidelines as some would have us do. It is instead joining our allies in supporting the international coalition in the fight against ISIL.
I am extremely proud of the men and women serving the cause of freedom in Iraq and Syria from their bases in Iraq and Kuwait. I am proud to know many of them personally.
Further, our government has already increased the resources to our police forces by one third. The Liberals and NDP voted against those increases each step of the way.
Now, budget 2015 will further increase resources to CSIS, the RCMP and CBSA by almost $300 million to bolster our front-line efforts to counter terrorism. Our government will continue to ensure that our police forces have the resources they need to help keep Canadians safe.
In the aftermath of 9/11, we learned that if only the security and other agencies in the United States had been talking to each other and sharing information, that awful tragedy would not have happened. Can we all imagine what the world would look like today without 9/11? It is hard to imagine. Regrettably, I think that the perpetrators of 9/11 would have simply tried to find a different soft spot through which to inflict their poison and terror. We cannot let Canada be that soft spot.
What we are proposing with Bill C-51 will simply bring us up to the same level of institutional capacity and operational interaction that is enjoyed by our Five Eyes allies: Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Our Conservative government is standing up for the protection of Canadians from those who wish to harm us. We will continue to take strong action in this regard, while the NDP and Liberals obstruct and oppose these important measures every step of the way.
The issue of the security of Canadians today and in generations to follow is too important to not be taken very seriously.
I hope that some members on the other side of the House will reject the demands of the big union bosses in the opposition leader's office and will vote with their constituents and with their consciences in support of this important legislation.
What Canadians can count on is this government's support for the values that brought us through many dark days of other conflicts, like the Second World War in Europe, the end of which, 70 years ago, we celebrate this week. The people of the Netherlands could count on Canadians then and Canadians can count on us now.