Mr. Speaker, the legislation before us, Bill C-59, is a huge piece of legislation. It goes far beyond the Liberal campaign promise to unwisely roll back a number of elements of Bill C-51, a bill that the Liberals supported when they were the third party in the House. I will say more about that in a moment. Bill C-59 is a multi-faceted attempt at the largest, broadest, and deepest redrawing, remodelling, overhauling, and consolidation—call it what they may—of Canada's national security laws in three and a half decades. It is, by any definition and any measure, an omnibus bill. Bill C-59 would create three new acts and would make significant changes to five existing acts. As my colleague from Barrie—Innisfil noted, the official opposition reserves the right to comment after the Speaker's decision on the NDP motion to separate.
In its complexity, Bill C-59 can only be described as an imperfect bill. There are good elements, which we in the official opposition support, but other elements that we strongly oppose. Similarly, Bill C-59 has been characterized by experts, at least by lawyers, academics, and others who have long studied and opined on national security issues, in a variety of ways, that it would resolve some problems and would ignore others. It would create some entirely new ones. Its elements are a combination of roses and thorns, and a firmly held criticism by the official opposition that two sections would actually weaken Canada's national security agencies and their ability to keep Canadians safe. The current Liberal government would make it more difficult for law enforcement and security agencies to prevent terrorist attacks on Canadian soil. Instead of combatting radicalization and cracking down on those who promote terrorism, Bill C-59 would create loopholes that advocates of terrorism could easily exploit.
With regard to the details, part one of Bill C-59 would create what is described as the centrepiece of the legislation, what others more colloquially describe as a super intelligence agency. It would be called the national security and intelligence review agency. Under its acronym, NSIRA, it would be assigned to review and report on the lawfulness of all national security and intelligence agencies across government. It would investigate complaints against the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, known by its acronym CSIS, complaints against the Communications Security Establishment, CSE, and complaints against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. NSIRA would be intended, the Liberals tell us, to work with the new committee of Parliament, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. The new agency, like the parliamentary committee, would report annually to the Prime Minister. This last point, for me, is another point of concern. On this side of the House, we would have preferred to have had these reports made directly to the Houses of Parliament rather than being filtered through the Prime Minister's Office.
Part 2 of Bill C-59 would establish what is described as an independent, quasi-judicial intelligence commissioner, who would assess and review ministerial decisions regarding intelligence gathering and cybersecurity activities. Our concerns here flow from the procrastination and delays by the Liberals, more directly by the Prime Minister's Office, to fill vacancies across a range of close to a dozen existing commissioner positions, the last time I looked. These are delays that have more to do with the PMO's misguided intent to socially engineer with partisan overtones these arm's-length positions rather than to appoint by talent and qualifications.
Moving on, parts 3 and 4 of the bill are said to respond to concerns about charter consistency of the mandates and the powers of CSE and CSIS. However, part 4 would strip an important element of Bill C-51, passed by our previous Conservative government in 2015, an element that gave CSIS new authority to disrupt terrorist threats. The Liberals supported Bill C-51 in 2015, though they vaguely committed to roll back what they called problematic parts. They certainly have, caving in now in Bill C-59, to seriously restricting the ability of CSIS to conduct disruption actions to certain specific actions, and only unless and until officers and operatives follow a burdensome process to obtain a judicial warrant ahead of time.
This list would include many of the routine elements of undercover intelligence work, such as impersonating a criminal; fabricating documents, for example, to support such a character impersonation; or misdirecting an identified threat individual to a meeting with co-conspirators. Forcing judicial warrant conditions into suspect terror or intelligence investigations imposes serious new burdens on law enforcement and could very well compromise time-critical efforts to thwart terrorist attacks.
Part 5 of the proposed act is an important part that commits to clarifying disclosure and accountability provisions in the newly renamed security of Canada information disclosure act. This should see the end of departmental and agency intelligence silos, and a more effective sharing of information that is critical to threats to national security. We will see.
Part 6 attempts to bring greater coherence to the no-fly list, where children and adults get red-flagged as false positives because of names shared with threat-identified individuals. However, these improvements are very slight and imperfect. Thousands of Canadian families are still stuck in limbo because their names appear, or the name of a family member appears, on the no-fly list.
Part 7 is another section which we firmly believe seriously weakens public safety by minimizing certain terrorist activities. It removes the advocacy and promotion of terror as a criminal offence. It replaces it with what is characterized as a more targeted general counselling offence for terrorism offences, whether or not a specific terrorism offence is committed or a specific terrorism offence is counselled. As well, part 7 would make it harder for police to pre-emptively detain people without a criminal charge.
The power of making preventive arrests, a sometimes life-and-death tool for officers and operatives, is now limited to situations where such an arrest would be necessary to prevent terrorist activity. Under our previous Bill C-51, the threshold was that such an arrest would be likely to prevent terrorist activity.
The Conservative Party has always taken very seriously the safety of Canadians, as threats to this country's security have evolved and deepened in this age of international terror. We recognize the importance of updating our national security infrastructure and practices. We support the preamble of Bill C-59 as a worthy rationale to reducing the ability of courts to strike down convictions on improperly applied charter grounds.
We also strongly oppose, and I cannot say this too often, parts 4 and 7 as an unacceptable weakening of public safety, and the watering down of provisions in Bill C-51 that helped law enforcement officers and agencies to keep Canadians safe.
In conclusion, Bill C-59 is a complex bill, and it is certainly, by any measure, an omnibus bill. It would create three new acts, and it would make changes to five other existing acts.
As I said earlier, we in the official opposition reserve comment on your ruling, Mr. Speaker, in the fullness of time, and we hope it is a relatively short period of time, to make a decision on the NDP motion to separate.