Madam Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-59 and to express my concerns about this bill being passed in its current form. I have read through the bill carefully and tried to understand the intentions of the Liberals, who seem to want to accommodate terrorists.
In the Liberals' speeches, they try to convince us that they are looking out for Canadians and working to keep them safe. However, if we look at their actions, such as the ones proposed in Bill C-59, it is obvious that either the Liberals are getting bad advice, or they are more concerned about the rights of criminals than those of law-abiding Canadians.
Let me explain. The most significant and most contentious change that Bill C-59 would make to the Criminal Code is the amendment of the offence set out in section 83.221, which applies to “Every person who...knowingly advocates or promotes the commission of terrorism offences in general”. Bill C-59 would introduce a much more stringent test by changing the wording to “Every person who counsels another person to commit a terrorism offence”.
The same goes for the definition of “terrorist propaganda” in subsection 83.222(8), which will significantly reduce the ability of law enforcement officials to use the tool for dismantling terrorist propaganda with judicial authorization as set out in Bill C-51. One could argue that using the expression “another person” means that the offence must target someone specifically rather than the broader target of domestic terrorism and the offence that Bill C-51 is supposed to prevent.
Madam Speaker, I know you understand the importance of what I just said. If Bill C-59 passes in its current form, terrorists will be free to spread all kinds of propaganda using social media, without any fear of being arrested or prosecuted.
The vast majority of terrorist activities are generated from propaganda that is spread in a general way, rather than directed at a specific person. Imagine how this measure will affect the work of our police officers and how we combat terrorism. This proposal is absurd, because it protects criminals and those who want to engage in violence in our country. The government has some explaining to do, and I mean today.
Bill C-59 limits what the Canadian Security Intelligence Service can do to help us protect ourselves. When Bill C-51 was tabled by our government, it gave CSIS the power to engage in threat disruption activities. This meant CSIS could contact the parents of a radicalized youth and urge them to prevent their child from travelling to a war zone or committing an attack here in Canada.
However, if the Liberals' Bill C-59 passes, CSIS will lose that power and will not be able to do anything on the spot to protect us. All of its activities will require a warrant, which is not exactly convenient when the goal is to stop someone from committing an act of terror. Currently, a CSIS agent can pretend to be a local resident to influence someone who is preparing to commit a terrorist act. Bill C-59 will put a stop to that. Agents will just have to watch the threat develop and will have to get a warrant from a judge before they can take action. By the time the warrant is issued, it could be too late. Why are the Liberals putting so many obstacles in the way of law enforcement, who are just trying to protect us Canadians?
The Conservative Party has always taken Canadians' safety seriously, as demonstrated by the introduction and passage of Bill C-51. We must not forget that this bill was passed by the Conservative government with the support of the Liberals, who were then the second opposition party. A couple of years ago, in 2015, the Liberals were in agreement. There was a slight change during the election campaign and now they have introduced Bill C-59, but let us not forget that Bill C-51 was approved by the Liberals.
Now it seems that the Liberals are trying to make things more difficult for the officers tasked with fighting these criminals. In 2015, during the campaign, our Liberal colleagues clearly stated that, if they were elected, they would amend this legislation. It is important to highlight that the bill was only introduced in Parliament at the end of June of this year. It took them 18 months.
The Liberals took their sweet time in keeping their election promise. Perhaps they realized that the original legislation was not as flawed as they thought. They now want to make amendments to show that they are keeping another promise.
The Conservative Party knows how important it is to have measures regarding national security institutions and the responsibility that comes with that. For us, there is no question that the safety of Canadians comes before the comfort of terrorists and criminals. Canadians who love their country come before those who are seeking to destroy it. Unlike the Liberals, we are committed to protecting Canadians. That is not just an idea that we came up with during the election campaign. We have always been committed to that goal because the threat still exists and has not diminished. The threat posed by these criminals is becoming increasingly sophisticated.
We have also heard that these thugs are wandering the streets of our communities after fighting with ISIS. They fought against our own soldiers. We know that they fought alongside ISIS and that many of them came back to Canada. The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is now saying that he is looking for evidence to arrest them. That is all well and good, but in the meantime, Canadians need clearer information about the situation.
Where is the transparency that the Liberals promised Canadians? Why is the Minister of Public Safety not saying anything about these criminals? Why is he being so silent on this?
As it now stands, Bill C-59 will greatly hinder the efforts of our peace officers and compromise the safety of Canadians, while facilitating the work of terrorists.