House of Commons Hansard #234 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-59.

Topics

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her very relevant question.

The answer is certainly not in Bill C-59. Why? The colleague who just asked me the question said herself that this bill does not work. She said herself that that the bill must be sent directly to committee to be amended because there are a lot of problems with it. If my colleague cannot defend this bill as it now stands, she should withdraw it and work with the opposition to come up with solutions that will respect civil rights and will not allow for the use of information obtained under torture. That is unacceptable.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Drummond for his speech.

Bill C-59 is supposed to correct Bill C-51, which was condemned by pretty much everyone in Canada at the time. However, Bill C-59 does not make all the necessary changes. It misses the mark and is incomplete. For example, the definition of national security still contains some aspects of the Conservative definition. The Liberals did not change it. National security still encompasses interference with infrastructure deemed critical or important.

Does that mean that the secret service could use its resources to stop peaceful protestors, for example, environmentalists or indigenous groups that seek to oppose the building of a new pipeline?

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, that was precisely our criticism of Bill C-51. I remember hearing about people who were spied on or investigated for no reason. Birdwatchers, for example. The authorities would not leave birdwatchers in peace. That is a perfect example of how this kind of bill can get out of hand.

People in Drummond are very concerned about shale gas and fracking. This is still a concern even though there is kind of a moratorium on it at the moment. If a government announced plans to develop shale gas in Quebec, my constituents would be the first to speak out against that because there is a lot of opposition to that kind of development in Quebec. This bill is flawed. A lot of my constituents could end up on a list or be spied on with no oversight. This bill has never made sense. The government even said so itself. We need to scrap it and go back to square one.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague to comment briefly on the fact that Bill C-59 contains not a single measure or provision to fix the ludicrous no fly list situation that results in people whose names are similar to those of alleged terrorists being barred from flying. That includes little six-, seven-, and eight-year-old boys and girls.

How is it that the authorities cannot tell the difference between a kid in elementary school and an alleged terrorist?

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, it makes no sense. This is further proof that this bill's focus is not in the right place.

Earlier I talked about information obtained by torture that the government continues to use. The same thing applies to what are known as no-fly lists. Some children are not being allowed on flights. There are at least three children that cannot fly. It is completely ridiculous. The Liberals have not been able to resolve this issue in two years. Frankly, that is pathetic.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Mr. Speaker, as someone who worked for a year as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and sits on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, I am eager to talk about a bill as important as Bill C-59. This bill is especially important to me because Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, one of the unfortunate victims of the attack in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, lived in Sainte-Julie.

In my opinion, Bill C-59 is the greatest reform to Canada's national security framework since the creation of CSIS in 1984. It is therefore completely appropriate to refer the bill to committee prior to second reading. The main upside of that option is that it will allow us to work on the bill before it is passed in principle, giving us more flexibility in crafting the legislation. It will also give the opposition parties a chance to propose amendments that reflect their values and their vision of national security in Canada.

I have great esteem for my fellow members of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. By discussing the bill in committee before it is passed in principle, we will be able to have an in-depth debate. I believe that my colleagues and I will discuss it fully, provided that they want to participate in the discussion, of course. Everyone wins in a process like this.

Last year, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security undertook a study on Canada's national security framework. The committee members began the study in September 2016 and concluded it in April 2017. The committee heard from 138 witnesses and received 39 submissions. It also travelled to five major Canadian cities to hear concerns from Canadians across the country.

This study is part of a larger process. The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness launched a parallel national public consultation with the release of a green paper. We received more than 75,000 responses online or by email to this consultation. That is a historic number of people consulted on a government bill. On a personal note, I had the opportunity to lead more than a dozen of these consultations in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. We heard all kinds of different responses, but it is important for Canadians to be involved, and they showed interest throughout the consultations. We took responses into account and considered them during the drafting of Bill C-59.

When this exhaustive process was completed, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security published the report entitled “Protecting Canadians and their Rights: A New Road Map for Canada's National Security”. Public Safety Canada also published a report entitled “What We Learned”. This led to Bill C-59, which the minister tabled in the House in June 2017.

After spending the summer discussing the bill and familiarizing ourselves with it, it is now time to debate it. I would like to quote the Canadian Bar Association:

Promising public safety as an exchange for sacrificing individual liberties and democratic safeguards is not, in our view, justifiable or realistic. Both are essential and complementary in a free and democratic society.

As mentioned by the member for Oakville North—Burlington, this quote is found at the very beginning of the introduction to the report “Protecting Canadians and their Rights”. In my opinion, the members of the committee sought to strike a balance between these considerations in this report.

I want to emphasize that striking a balance between security and rights and freedoms is vital to establishing a new national security framework. The National Security and Intelligence Committee for Parliamentarians will soon begin its work and Canada will no longer be the only Five Eyes country that does not have parliamentary oversight of intelligence activities.

With Bill C-59 that is before us, we will address other gaps, primarily by creating the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, which will review all 17 federal agencies with a national security mandate.

This enables Canada to fill a significant gap with respect to our partners. The government will create an intelligence commissioner, who will oversee the legality of the authorizations given to CSIS and the CSE. Furthermore, Bill C-59 will amend the Communications Security Establishment Act to give the CSE its own legislative framework and modernize our approach to cybercrimes.

In addition to these advances, the bill addresses CSIS's disruption powers and will provide a data collection framework for CSIS. The Secure Air Travel Act will be amended to address problems with false positives. The Security of Canada Information Sharing Act will be amended to specify the nature of information transmitted among government agencies.

Lastly, the government will address several calls to amend the Criminal Code to re-examine terrorist-related offences and recognizance with conditions. I will share with the House the fact that I myself was once a privileged member of the intelligence community. A number of things spring to my mind. The very nature of information and information sharing is paramount, especially in times like these, in 2017, when security is increasingly precarious. We live in one of the most beautiful countries that is committed to defending rights and freedoms, and we cannot compromise one at the expense of the other.

It is important to redefine the role of CSIS. Let us talk about metadata. As my colleague from Drummond said, the law was very clear. The court's ruling was very clear. My colleague said earlier that it is not the men and women of CSIS who somehow handicapped the procedures that landed them in court and got them an unfavourable ruling. It was the law. It is quite clear that the reality of information sharing and the nature of the levels of information that have to be managed in today's society call for a modernization of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act. That is precisely what Bill C-59 is trying to address.

It is crucial to act in an informed manner and to have concrete operations with full knowledge of the facts. This full knowledge is based on better information and better information sharing, according to the rule of law and the regulations. There are 17 different agencies. The organization that will oversee those 17 agencies will not only guarantee Canadians that the rules surrounding information and privacy are being followed, but it will also bring us up to par and put us on the cutting edge of technology like our partners, to ensure that the latest security requirements are met.

Let us talk about screening for passengers on the no-fly list. There are no children on the no-fly list. Is that clear? There are no children under the age of 18 on the no-fly list. Opposition members need to stop fearmongering. We understand that sometimes more than one person can have the same name, but it is a question of properly identifying individuals to ensure that the right person is prohibited from flying.

Past problems have been addressed. Past problems have been shared with the department and measures have been taken. As the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness announced this morning, measures have been put in place to deal with this sort of problem, from both an operational and a technological perspective. I think that, rather than coming to a complete standstill, starting from scratch, and finding ourselves back in medieval times, we need to modernize our situation. Bill C-59 is the answer.

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3:55 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his speech. I can sense his conviction in defending Bill C-59.

I would like to ask the same question that I asked the member for Drummond. It had to do with the concerns we have about the definition of national security, which includes interference with critical infrastructure.

We think that this could be used to spy on or hinder peaceful protestors, for example, environmentalists, concerned citizens, or indigenous groups who want to oppose the construction of a pipeline.

What type of guarantee can my colleague give that this will not happen and that the bill contains the necessary provisions in that regard?

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for expressing his concerns about people's privacy and security, but it is time to stop scaring people into thinking that whenever they express their ideas, CSIS will be watching and investigating them. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms makes it clear that CSIS will not contemplate any activities that run counter to the charter.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if my colleague could talk about how this bill would strengthen accountability and transparency by creating the national security intelligence review agency and the position of the intelligence commissioner, which I hope would also complement the National Security Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians that was created by Bill C-22.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think that Canada is a leader when it comes to protecting information and the quality of its oversight. Given the clear lack of oversight, it was crucial to determine how information would be shared among agencies. It was also important to create organizations to ensure that the information was flowing among agencies, that information sharing was happening in compliance with standards, rules, laws, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that nothing got out of hand. I think that setting up those institutions was vital and will put us on a par with or even in a leadership position with respect to our partners in terms of information.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if my colleague would give his thoughts on the importance of having the right balance. We often talk about safety, which is uppermost in the minds of all Canadians. We hear a lot about individual rights. I have always said that we are a party of the Charter of Rights and understand the importance of rights and freedoms. I would ask my colleague to provide his thoughts on how this bill would both encapsulate the importance of rights and freedoms and provide the sense of security and safety that Canadians want.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will do more than share my own thoughts. I will convey the thoughts of the Canadians we talked to in our consultations. They were clear on their concerns about their safety and security. No one is oblivious to the events of the past few years. The Canadians we consulted were clear on the extraordinary value of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canadians themselves are divided on where the balance lies between maximizing our safety and preserving our rights and freedoms. This was a key concern to the Canadians we consulted, and it is taken into account in the proposed Bill C-59.

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4 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I would remind hon. members that if they have phones or iPads that have alarms set or phone ringers, they should turn them off. It would be appreciated. It is not a big distraction, but it is rather impolite, while someone is speaking, to have a phone ring. I was talking to a colleague in the Ontario legislature, and if someone has a phone that goes off or the member is using it, the member loses it for 24 hours. I am sure we do not want to go there, and I trust everyone will show some respect for others who are speaking.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner.

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4 p.m.

Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the government's intent to send Bill C-59, a national security act to amend the oversight and powers of our security agencies, directly to committee.

As I have said in this place before, the top priority of this House must be to protect all Canadians. The protection of our people should be placed ahead of political manoeuvring and should be of top concern for all members, regardless of political party. I would hope that the recent request by the Minister of Public Safety to move Bill C-59 directly to committee before second reading is in support of this ideal that the safety of Canadians comes ahead of political goals. However, I am left to wonder if this is just a disguised time allocation move or a ploy to avoid multiple votes at second reading on this omnibus bill, as per the Liberals' recent changes to Standing Order 69, or both.

Whether the government acknowledges that there are areas of this bill that might be improved is to be determined. However, my hope is that an open, thorough, and complete study of this bill will not be met with time limitations or political deadlines ahead of the goal of protecting Canadians. To do this, we need to allocate adequate time to ensure that we hear all points of view, from those who think this bill goes too far to those who feel it does not go far enough.

From my 35-year career in policing, I know full well that the playing field is not level. Our national security and policing agencies operate within the rules and are confined generally to national borders. They act in the best interests of Canadians to protect us and to ensure that the measures they undertake are reasonable and in the public interest. Those who would seek to do us harm, both foreign and domestic, are not concerned about rules or where they are from but about what they intend to do.

Empowering and supporting our security agencies is about defending the best interests of Canadians. This is why unreasonable limitations on our national security agencies will have a negative impact on protecting Canadians. Let us be clear. When we identify a specific list of activities our security and intelligence agencies can do, and then create a set of rules around using those tools, we are creating a playbook, for those seeking to do us harm, on how to avoid detection and operate outside the reach of those agencies that are set up to protect us.

Unreasonable limitations on police, judges, and national security agencies in monitoring known threats would be a mistake. Checks and balances are needed. However, we need enhanced and more effective communications and information-sharing and powers to determine threats in advance, not a limiting of those powers.

Unprecedented attacks have been witnessed repeatedly across Europe, such as the killing of innocent people for no reason other than for being members of an open, welcoming, and pluralist society. The recent events in Edmonton are a Canadian example. Officer Mike Chernyk was stabbed, yet heroically fought off an extremist attacker after being struck by a car. The suspect then went after innocent people using his vehicle.

Canadians were sickened by this attack. Such things stand in direct contrast to our Canadian values: freedom to worship, freedom of speech, and freedom from fear of random and cowardly attacks, all things that fundamentalists like ISIS are against. What concerned many Canadians was that the information about this individual being a threat was there, but nothing was done to prevent it. We knew this man was a threat, because Canadians came forward and reported him as a potential radical and suggested he could carry out an attack. The police interviewed him but could not take any further action. The same man came to Canada as a refugee after being ordered deported from the United States as a failed refugee claimant. It would be inflammatory to suggest that all illegal border-crossers are like this one, but it would also be naive to think that others like him will not attempt to abuse our flawed system. The information was there but was not used in a way that could help Canadians, and the police lacked the ability to take further action.

We owe it to those who are protecting us to give them the powers they need to act. Reducing or limiting the use of monitoring or recognizance orders does little to protect Canadians. Given that these orders come from a judge for monitoring Canadians, it seems questionable at best that monitoring suspected or known threats should be limited.

We owe it to all those who work for the cause of protecting Canada from threats, both foreign and domestic, to ensure that the risk and execution of such attacks are mitigated. We owe it to everyday Canadians, people who are living good, honourable lives and are seeking nothing other than to live free and to support their communities.

It would be difficult to look into the eyes of Canadians or to explain to Edmonton officer Mike Chernyk, or to victims of abuse and violence at the hands of extremists, that we do not want to empower our security agencies to defend us, that we do not respect their integrity enough to give them the tools to do their jobs, and that we cannot trust them to act honestly and respectfully.

I am reminded of what our former prime minister said in his speech in the wake of the attack on Parliament Hill and the death of Nathan Cirillo:

We are also reminded that attacks on our security personnel and on our institutions of governance are by their very nature attacks on our country, on our values, on our society, on us Canadians, as a free and democratic people who embrace human dignity for all.

But let there be no misunderstanding. We will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated. In fact this will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts, and those of our national security agencies, to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats, and keep Canada safe here at home. Just as it will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world, and fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores. They will have no safe haven....

...I have every confidence that Canadians will pull together, with the kind of firm solidarity that has seen our country through many challenges. Together we will remain vigilant against those at home or abroad who wish to harm us.

There must be an appropriate balance between empowering our front-line security and police agencies to do their jobs while respecting the rights of Canadians. I would like to believe that all members of this House share that sentiment.

With our tax system, we compel everyone to provide an honest and accurate accounting of their finances and to file it with the CRA. We then entrust a select group of people to review those filings to identify any potential issues. Those thought to be in violation of the CRA rules are audited, and if guilty, are sanctioned. Throughout that process, there are checks and balances. With a responsibility far more critical than tax collection, that being the protection of Canadian values, the protection of Canadian lives, the integrity of our economy, and the protection of our very way of life, why would we expect a less rigorous national security program than that for our tax system? Why would we say that we are subject to scrutiny for potentially leaving something out of our taxes but not if we are planning to attack our national security and public safety?

I welcome the opportunity that a thorough and complete review of this legislation represents: a chance to ensure that our police and national security agencies have the appropriate powers to do their jobs to protect us.

As a Christian, I am taught and believe in forgiveness, but nowhere does my faith say that we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to becoming victims of those who would do us harm.

Let us all work towards the balance in this legislation that would provide tools for our security agencies, respect our rule of law, and provide oversight and direction to our intelligence and security agencies. Most of all, let us put the protection of Canadians first and foremost.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

November 20th, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the former Stephen Harper government was largely repudiated for its work on Bill C-51, its national security bill. Our government's bill really tries to fix the issues in Bill C-51 by striking a balance. Our bill would see the tightening of the definition of terrorist propaganda and would protect the right to advocate and protest. It would also upgrade the no-fly list and would ensure the paramountcy of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I wonder if the member from Medicine Hat could explain some ways that he sees that this bill would actually be an improvement over Bill C-51.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am reviewing the bill to find some good points. I am challenged by the fact that there seems to be a slippery slope toward defending those who would do us harm in this country, that we are going to limit the authorities for recognizance and such orders, and that we would limit the ability of security agencies to do what Bill C-51 allowed them to do without the time restraints that could be in effect.

However, I am optimistic that the move by the current government to bring this bill to committee before second reading will allow an opportunity for all parties to look at the bill, to review it clause by clause, and to ensure that a non-partisan approach to public safety and national security is evident and available to all Canadians once this bill comes back to the House.

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4:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his speech, but I do not share his optimism with respect to the bill going to committee.

Since the changes to the Standing Orders have taken place, this is the first time that a bill has been sent to committee in advance of second reading. The cynic in me tells me that perhaps the Liberals are doing this because they do not want the proper scrutiny of it. The government also knows that it controls the committees. Therefore, the issue of whether opposition amendments to the bill would be accepted remains to be seen.

However, at the beginning of his speech, the hon. member talked about political manoeuvring. He did show some cynicism towards that. I would like to ask the hon. member what he thinks the reason is that the government would move the bill to committee in advance of second reading.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I guess my optimism comes from my naïveté. I am new here, one year in the House, and I appreciate that I may not see things the way others with experience do. However, I believe and hope that national security and public safety, as I said at the front end, are the number one priority in moving the bill forward.

I am concerned that, because of the precedent of having the bill go straight to committee before second reading, there may be some behind-the-scene political games being played. I would beseech the government to ensure that does not happen, that there is no time allocation and that this is not a ploy to invoke a different type of time allocation, and that it is not a ploy to avoid the opportunity to have multiple votes on an omnibus bill, which is a great possibility. I would hope that the safety of Canadians, the safety of Canada and our national security, are of number one importance, and that none of this political manoeuvring will occur.

In direct response to my colleague, I would say that the proof is going to be determined in how this plays out in committee, in how willing the committee will be in hearing from everybody on both sides of this argument, those who believe we have gone too far, and those who believe we have not gone far enough. We will see at the end of the day whether best intentions and the best interest of Canada and Canadian security are what the government was actually after.

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4:10 p.m.

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the motion that proposes to send Bill C-59 to committee before second reading, something that has not been done thus far in this Parliament. Debate, of course, is crucial when we are discussing something as significant to Canadians as their safety insofar as national security is concerned, as well as their rights as citizens in this country. I want to use my time to ask my colleagues and Canadians who may be watching, with respect to national security, what kind of country do we want to be? How can we strike the appropriate balance, giving our national security agencies the powers they need to do the job to protect us and at the same time protecting Canadian values? The first question is a little broad for a 10-minute speech, but my answer to the second one is very simple. We have to approach this task with great caution and open debate.

Bill C-51 was brought in by the Harper Conservatives, the former government. It was nothing short of disastrous. Bill C-51 provoked the largest demonstrations in my riding of Victoria in recent history. There were town halls with people spilling out into the streets, and anxiety on behalf of people from all walks of life in our community. The consensus was clear that the legislation was open to abuse and was far too wide. The language was vague and permissive. People were unsure where they stood as Canadians and what their rights would mean under that new legislation. The Liberals did nothing, except to say that they liked part of it, they did not like other parts. They refused to go along with the NDP's request that the bill be repealed in its entirety, and promised to repeal the problematic elements. Therefore, what we have before us is a 138-page statute with nine parts, which is a comprehensive attempt, after two years of consultation, to get it right. The question is on whether they have.

It is our contention that this poorly conceived bill should not be supported in the first place and needs to be repealed. That is not a new position. My colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke introduced Bill C-303, which simply asked that Bill C-51 be repealed. That continues to be our view on what should occur in this situation. We think that the bill is not in the interests of Canadians and should be rejected outright.

Since the Liberals voted in favour of Bill C-51, instead of scrapping it and beginning anew, they created Bill C-59, which was supposed to correct the numerous deficiencies of the former legislation. They brought in a green paper and consulted for two years. That green paper was criticized for its lack of neutrality and for favouring the national security side as a preoccupation over civil liberties concerns and the right for peaceful protest, freedom of speech, lawful assembly, and dissent. The Liberals assured Canadians that the most problematic areas would be repealed. I am afraid that the resulting bill has not done that, and several problematic elements remain.

However, there is much in the bill that I wish to say is right. For example, the creation of the super SIRC, the expanded oversight committee, is an excellent step. There are many other things, however, that are deeply problematic, and which, if time permits, I would like to talk about.

There are some elements, in particular involving the Communications Security Establishment, the shadowy agency that Canadians know from U.S. TV to be our counterpart to the National Security Agency in that country, the NSA. There are problems, for example, with its new cyber-ability to modify, disrupt, and delete “anything on or through the global...structure”, which sounds a little Orwellian. It would seem that the mandate blurs the line between intelligence gathering and active cyber-activities, as has been pointed out by Professors Forcese and Roach as well. It is under the national defence department, as it has been for many years, and the bill would deal with national defence matters such as CSE, and other areas as well.

The bill would do nothing to address the ministerial directive on torture. The directive needs to be acknowledged. It is not part of the bill, it is merely a directive. A new directive was introduced only last year, and it failed to forbid the RCMP, CBSA, or CSIS from using information that was largely extracted through overseas torture. The new instruction amounts to only semantic changes and would not do anything to ensure our public safety, because it is notorious that information obtained through torture is unreliable. The government did nothing to address that in a meaningful way in this legislation. It could have, and chose not to. This legislation does not go far enough in addressing the glaring omissions and problems of Bill C-51.

Michael Vonn, who is with the BC Civil Liberties Association, has also spoken about the misguided process of amending this flawed legislation. She said, “The bill does several things to try to reign in the unprecedented surveillance powers created by [the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act]...”. That is one of the parts of this new legislation. She went on to say that as there was “no credible justification for [that act] that was ever made, it would have been much better to repeal it and introduce any clarifying amendments required in the federal Privacy Act.” Again, that was another opportunity lost. Her comments highlight that measures and policies were brought into effect without any demonstrated justification that they were needed to keep Canadians safe.

We are in the strange position of rushing through the appropriate steps of amending practices that may not be necessary in the first place. After Canadians have waited two years for badly needed action on national security, why has the government not used its time appropriately to ensure that we had legislation that, in the words of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, “gets it right”. I implore my colleagues in government to think differently than the government before it. If there is truly a commitment for openness, transparency, and accountability, let us debate the bill at second reading and work together to fix the half measures that are in it.

A procedural issue is before us as a result of this unusual move by the government to move the bill to committee before second reading. As I understand it, the motion before us would send the bill to committee before the usual debate at second reading. Therefore, the Standing Orders will not necessarily apply to enable the Speaker to break out the nine parts of this lengthy legislation so we could vote in favour of some and oppose others. Surely, the Liberals are better than this.

Rather than resorting to the Stephen Harper trick of saying we voted against this omnibus legislation to keep Canadians safe, which generally was done in all the other Conservative omnibus bills, why would the government not allow this to be broken out the way that the Speaker has the authority to do? There are some parts of the bill that are worthy of support. However, the Liberals' trick, following in the footsteps of Mr. Harper, would require those of us who are opposed to some of the very contentious issues to vote against it all. That is a trick that is unworthy of the minister and his government. Measures that compromise our charter rights and our privacy rights do our country harm, and those are the reasons we called for the repeal of Bill C-51 more than two years ago.

In speaking about privacy, in the fall of 2016, a Federal Court ruling took CSIS to task for storing sensitive metadata on Canadians who were not suspected of anything. The court found that for 10 years, CSIS had been illegally storing information derived from some of its wiretaps. The data involved metadata such as source information, emails, phone numbers, and the like. This legislation would not change that. It would allow it to continue.

By way of conclusion, we have to ask ourselves whether we want a country where our security services have a lot of information about many citizens, with a view to detecting national security threats, but for which there is no demonstrable harm caused by any of those citizens. The powers with respect to the charter are extremely complicated. I would invite people to look at clause 98 and figure out whether or not the courts would be able to limit our charter rights in a warrant. It is very problematic. We must do it better, and we need to have that opportunity as quickly as possible.

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4:20 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is clear to me that Bill C-59 is spotty in addressing some issues that were found in Bill C-51 extremely well. Here I refer to part 3 at the time and its “thought chill” provisions, including the bizarre notion of terrorism in general on the Internet being an offence that could land someone in jail if that person could not understand what it is. This bill fails quite seriously.

On the information section, Professor Craig Forcese has made the point that we need to know that any legislation in Canada will not allow information about Canadian citizens to be shared with foreign governments in a way that imperils their safety. A lot of the bill appears to come from the decisions on the Maher Arar inquiry and on the Air India inquiry.

Regarding my hon. colleague's reference to torture, my disappointment is that no one seems to have focused on part 5 of Bill C-51, which amended the immigration act. Professor Donald Galloway of the University of Victoria was the only one to fully understand that section and to ask what Bill C-52, part 5, was trying to do in amending the immigration act. The conclusion was that it aimed to give information to judges for security certificates without having to inform them that the information was obtained by torture. I wonder if the member for Victoria has any insights as to where that section has gone, because no one is fixing it in Bill C-59.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands for her thoughtful perspective on part 5. There are nine parts to this omnibus bill, and part 5, as she pointed out, is the amendment to the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act.

This morning the minister was proud to speak about Craig Forcese and Kent Roach as validators of this great initiative, but when they gave their report card it was indeed this part, as the member suggested, that caused them the most concern. While they liked parts of the bill, they graded part 5 as a bare pass, as they put it, because it simply did not address the concerns that people like Professor Galloway have addressed from the start. This is one of the areas that needs a considerable amount of work.

The other one, of course, is the need for judicial warrants. It is so unclear just what the courts' powers are in light of the charter. We certainly need to get that right as well, because to suggest that our courts can somehow be in favour of what would be the promoters of charter violations is hugely problematic in a system that is governed by the rule of law.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the member refers to a number of parts of the legislation that he seems to be more concerned about than others. That is quite understandable. Both the member and the preceding Conservative member talked about the way we are going through this process as outside the norm.

Given that my colleague is very knowledgeable about processes in the House, would he not acknowledge that allowing the bill to go through in this manner would allow us to make a wider assessment of the bill and its scope? That is a very important aspect of why we are having it go through this process. I would be interested in the member's thoughts on how we will be better able to deal with the wider scope of the issue by doing it this way.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, the ability to consider the scope of the bill in broader terms is welcome. What is concerning, and I may be mistaken and would welcome clarification on this point, is that because of this unusual procedure to send it to committee before it goes to second reading, I am advised that it would not necessarily allow the Speaker to break this omnibus bill into separate parts. I would like to vote in favour of the part that creates a national security and intelligence review agency, for example, but might not be in favour of part 5, as we have just been discussing. I understand that it is not going to be possible, and I find that regretful.

It allows the government to characterize members on this side of the aisle politically as simply being opposed to national security, or whatever else it wants to characterize us doing. I find that very regrettable. I hope I am mistaken in that interpretation.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Beloeil—Chambly on a point of order.

Standing Order 69.1—Omnibus BillsPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask that you consider Standing Order 69.1 and divide certain parts of Bill C-59 before us today into separate pieces. As mentioned during today's debate, I believe that Bill C-59 is an omnibus bill as described in that standing order.

Standing Order 69.1 now says, in part:

(1) In the case where a government bill seeks to repeal, amend or enact more than one act, and where there is not a common element connecting the various provisions or where unrelated matters are linked, the Speaker shall have the power to divide the questions, for the purposes of voting.

I submit that Bill C-59 fits that description.

We are thinking of this analysis at this time, because in your ruling of November 7 on Standing Order 69.1, you said:

Where members believe that the Standing Order should apply, I would encourage them to raise their arguments as early as possible in the process, especially given that the length of debate at a particular stage can be unpredictable.

That is what we believe we are doing today.

Here is how I see the various parts of the bill and why, I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, we believe they should be divided into different parts to be voted on separately.

Let us take a look at part 1 and part 2. Part 1 enacts the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency Act, and part 2 enacts the Intelligence Commissioner Act. These two parts enact two new acts and amend up to 12 existing acts.

These parts obviously create watchdogs to oversee the national security agencies.

The activities of the new agencies created under this bill would affect up to 14 federal departments. Since these parts create new agencies and enact two brand-new acts with a very specific mandate, we believe they should be voted on separately.

We believe that part 3 should be separated because it makes a significant change. It too would enact a new act, the Communications Security Establishment Act, yet another act that will amend existing acts.

That proposed act would also amend the National Defence Act. We know that the minister responsible for CSE is the Minister of National Defence. Again, we feel that puts certain optics around this debate, given that the Minister of Public Safety is tabling this bill, and the purpose for changing that particular piece.

Still on part 3, I do want to mention that many of these components are being painted as dealing with specific aspects of national security, more specifically terrorism, but if we look the part dealing with CSE, we see that a large part of the mandate goes beyond just terrorism. It could be individuals and, to use the colloquial term, hackers or even states that would be engaging in certain forms of cyber-activity. The proposed act would give CSE the ability to interfere and even counter certain things that might be done, which is very separate from reforming elements of the previous Bill C-51.

Parts 4 and 5 deal with metadata collection and the threat disruption powers being given to CSIS. In the case of the metadata collection, that of course is something new. In the case of threat disruption, we are obviously looking at what the specific intent of the bill was, which is to repeal and amend, in this case to amend certain things brought in under Bill C-51 in the previous Parliament.

We are also looking at changes to SCISA, the information-sharing regime brought in by former Bill C-51. That again leads us to argue that parts 4 and 5, given their nature and the connection they have with previous legislation that is being changed, should be looked at together.

Part 6 has to do with the Secure Air Travel Act and the no-fly list. We definitely think this needs to be separated. There are a number of important elements to consider, not to mention the issue of funding and the different work that will be done by the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Transport in co-operation with airlines.

Part 7 deals with specific changes to the Criminal Code, certain offences that were brought in under Bill C-51, and other aspects that needed to be cleaned up based on the reforms the government wishes to propose to the Criminal Code, specifically to what the previous government did in that respect. We are looking here specifically at how terrorism charges are laid and prosecuted in Canada, which is fair to argue is very distinct from dealing with cybersecurity threats or even the no-fly list. We are looking here at the way the justice system is treating these matters.

Part 8 is in the same vein because it proposes changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act. It looks at those offences, but from the perspective of young offenders and, more specifically, at how to deal with those particular cases.

Parts 9 and 10 are the more procedural elements, dealing with statutory review and coming into force provisions. We believe that we can group together parts 7, 8, 9, and 10.

As you obviously know, the Standing Order currently gives you the power to divide a bill, but is limited to “the motion for second reading and reference to a committee and the motion for third reading and passage of the bill.” I am sure that could be read to mean that you do not have the power to divide the bill for a vote on a motion like the one before us to immediately refer a bill to a committee forthwith.

The government, by presenting this motion in a way that, on the surface, is well intentioned and indicates its wish to significantly amend the bill and hear experts at committee, I submit is actually attempting to circumvent Standing Order 69.1, knowing full well that this is omnibus legislation. It is trying to do so by sending this bill to committee before second reading, and therefore preventing us from going forward with the way the Standing Order is now drafted, which would mean second reading and then referral to committee. That is not how the process would take place given the motion that is before the House today.

This bill has so many components and, as the government has said, is perhaps one of the most significant changes to the various components of national security, whether oversight, CSE, or CSIS. It includes some significant changes to how national security cases are charged and prosecuted in the judicial system. It is telling that the government seems to recognize the omnibus nature of the bill in debate here today. It seems the only procedural way to hide the omnibus nature of the bill is for the government to present the motion today to provide it with a legislative pathway that would allow it to circumvent its own new rules in the Standing Orders on omnibus provisions.

We are concerned that the Liberal government is hiding the omnibus nature of this bill from the public. From a communications point of view, we know it sounds nice to only talk about the oversight elements when experts have agreed there are very significant concerns over how cyber-weapons, as described in part 3 of the bill, would operate. We have even heard experts say it is not possible for them to fully analyze all of the elements or the entire scope of the bill, even with their own expertise. To me, that is very telling of the omnibus nature of the bill and the difficulties of undertaking a legislative process in the way proposed by the government.

While wanting to give the benefit of the doubt to the government and its good intentions to have a robust study, the feeling we get from our reading of the Standing Order seems to be that this is an attempt to do through the back door what it is forbidden from doing through the front door, thereby preventing you and the powers conferred on you in this place to separate the different aspects of the bill.

I assert that under Standing Order 69.1, the role of the Speaker is to apply the rules of the House to deal with different concepts and themes in a bill with a different vote, which is obviously what I am raising today, so that MPs can represent their constituents' views differently on each part of a bill if they believe they should and are able to vote appropriately based on the different complexities and nature of different points. As my colleague from Victoria just pointed out in his speech, the fact that we might agree with the government on going forward with certain elements of oversight is distinct from a debate on cybersecurity or one on the no-fly list, which are very different matters. Pardon my choice of words, but I believe comparing oversight to cybersecurity, the Criminal Code, and the no-fly list seems a little ludicrous, and makes it very challenging as members of Parliament to properly vote and express ourselves.

By having the bill go through before second reading, the government is arguing that it should be treated as one whole question. It is all about security. However, anything can essentially be qualified as national security. That is obviously not enough of a common element.

When we look at what these different parts would do, the new acts that would be created and the acts that would be amended, forcing MPs to vote on the creation of two new acts and the amendments of dozens of other acts, such significant acts as the National Defence Act, the CSIS Act, and others, it certainly causes problems for members of Parliament who wish to vote on these different distinct components. I also submit that it circumvents these very same omnibus rules that have been put in place by a government that said this would no longer be a practice, as we saw under the previous government.

Mr. Speaker, you stated in your November 8 ruling about the uses of Standing Order 69.1, “In my view, the spirit of the Standing Order was to provide for a separate vote when new or unrelated matters were introduced in the budget implementation bill.” I agree with the logic you expressed at the time and believe that in this case, the same logic could apply. We are, of course, dealing with new and unrelated matters that were not part of the debate leading up to the tabling of the legislation and the arguments the government made for the need to reform certain elements of legislation tabled in the previous Parliament. I hope you will agree with our assessment and arrive at the same finding here today.

Finally, I submit that Standing Order 69.1 should apply at all stages of the process, including sending the bill to committee before second reading. Again, the motion is before us today. This way, a bill that contains very different ideas would be divided in such a way at every stage that members could continue to express their views, the views of their constituents and the views of Canadians more broadly in dealing with these very distinct and complicated matters when it comes to these important reforms and not simply having to say yes or no to these sweeping reforms and then be accused of being on one side or the other when clearly there are some very distinct components.

I thank my colleagues for their indulgence. New Democrats fundamentally believe that these important and unique changes to such cornerstones of our democracy as national security and the protection of Canadians' rights and freedoms and privacy deserve to be separated in order for members to express Canadians' concerns and views through a vote. That is why I thought it was extremely important to bring all of this to the attention of the House.