Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise at this stage of our study of Bill C-59.
Nine days ago, on Remembrance Day, November 11, all Canadians, including MPs, were united in our thoughts. Hundreds of commemorative events took place on that day. Personally, in my riding, I commemorated Remembrance Day in the indigenous community of Wendake with my 94-year-old father, a World War II veteran.
I am mentioning this because Remembrance Day unites all Canadians, and especially because it reminds us that Canada has always been on the right side of history. Canada has always fought the enemies of freedom and defended the values that it holds dear and that unite us. In World War I and World War II, the enemy was a nation, a country. It had a uniform and a flag. It displayed its colours. Today, the enemy is everywhere and nowhere all at once. The enemy is terrorism.
That is why we must fight this enemy with all our energy and necessary tools. That is why I wanted to draw a parallel between the hundreds of thousands of Canadians and soldiers around the world who made the ultimate sacrifice by laying down their young lives to fight the enemies of freedom and those who, today, in the 21st century, fight the enemies of our core principles, the terrorists.
The world changed on September 11, 2001. When terrorism reared its ugly head and attacked our neighbour and ally, the United States, the world took drastic action to combat terrorism. Since terrorism is cowardly and hypocritical, and since the enemy has no pride or honour and does not follow rules, terrorists are always everywhere, insidious, masked, hiding in the shadows and waiting in ambush, because they have no honour or even the courage to defend their beliefs honourably. We must therefore fight the enemy with information and, here in Canada, with CSIS.
The enemy has struck south of the border, and it has struck here as well. Thirty-seven months ago, almost to the day, the enemy came right up to the door of the House of Commons in Ottawa, and we lived through a tragic and horrible act of terrorism. That is why the Conservative government at the time, with the help of several individuals, took the necessary measures to combat terrorism in Canada by introducing Bill C-51, which was sponsored by the hon. member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, then minister of public safety, and by the hon. Peter MacKay, then minister of justice.
Some were in agreement with the bill, while others opposed it. I would like once again to point out the cohesiveness of the NDP, as the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie was saying. We do not agree, but they, like us, are consistent. Curiously, the people who now make up the government voted in favour of the bill. We were happy, but a few months later, during the election campaign, those same people got all worked up about Bill C-51, saying that it made no sense. They said that, if they were elected, they would properly restore order and discipline. It took them 18 months to come up with Bill C-59, which they introduced at the very end of the session last June. If I remember correctly, it was June 17, just before we returned to our ridings to work with our constituents.
This bill is nothing short of massive. It proposes to amend nine acts over as many chapters, for a total of some 140 pages. It is what we might call a mammoth bill or an omnibus bill, but let us set political rhetoric aside and get to the meat of the matter.
Why, in our opinion, should this bill be studied?
On this side of the House, we believe that CSIS agents should be given all the tools they need to detect and eradicate terrorism. It is the best course of action.
If I spoke of Remembrance Day at the top of my speech, that was to remind the House that, today, our enemy hides in the shadows. The enemy is a hypocrite, a coward. It knows no religion or law. It has no flag. It is everywhere and nowhere all at once. We must therefore allocate the resources needed to root it out. We must provide all necessary tools to law enforcement working to eradicate terrorism should it ever rear its ugly head in Canada.
We believe that the bill will make the work of CSIS agents more difficult, because they will have to work harder to convince judges to give them the authority they need to take action. This is true for several measures, whether for “altering, removing, replacing, destroying, disrupting or degrading a [terrorist] communication or means of communication”, or for “altering, removing, replacing, destroying, degrading or providing—or interfering with the use or delivery of—any thing or part of a thing, including records, documents, goods, components and equipment”. Wars hinge on such things.
If we want to eradicate terrorism, we must allow our police officers to address terrorist activity directly, by intercepting the transmission of communications and documents.
The same applies when it comes to “fabricating or disseminating any information, record or document”.
The same also applies when it comes to “making or attempting to make, directly or indirectly, any financial transaction that involves or purports to involve currency or a monetary instrument”.
These people are not living hand to mouth. They are extremely well paid, in fact. We must locate the source of their funding.
It is the same when it comes to “interrupting or redirecting, directly or indirectly, any financial transaction...interfering with the movement of any person; and personating a person, other than a police officer, in order to take a measure referred to in [the previous act]”.
What that means is that, with Bill C-59 and its proposed new measures, the current government is making the work of police officers who risk their lives every time they try to flush out terrorists. That is our concern.
It is the same thing with cyber-attacks. Bill C-59 sets out the government's plan to protect Canadians from the terrorist enemy's attacks via Internet, or what are known as cyber-attacks. The government needs to take measures that can directly thwart the enemy and cause it to back down when it comes to cyber-attacks.
Oddly enough, the government is giving the Minister of Foreign Affairs veto power in this regard. Why? Why give veto power to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and not the Minister of Public Safety, the Minister of Justice, or the Minister of Transport?
If, God forbid, the enemy wanted to undermine our air travel security, for example, why would the foreign affairs minister have veto over whether we launch a cyber-attack against the terrorists? We do not understand the reasoning behind this measure.
That is why we have serious concerns about this bill, which will also affect our foreign relations with our main partners, friends, and allies in the battle all democracies are waging against terrorism. Three weeks ago, the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles talked about a sad reality, and that is the fact that 60 members of the Taliban who fought against our troops in Afghanistan have come back to Canada. That is like Canada welcoming 60 members of the SS immediately following the Second World War. That would have been unspeakable. For all of those reasons, we have reservations regarding this bill.