Mr. Speaker, it is not always a pleasure, but it is definitely an honour for me to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-59, an act respecting national security matters .
This is a strange second reading debate. To provide some context for the people listening at home, we are supposed to be at second reading. We would normally debate the bill at second reading and eventually vote to refer it to committee if we agreed with the general principles of the bill. What is happening here, which is highly unusual, is that we are not at second reading; rather we are debating whether to refer it to committee before second reading. What this means, essentially, is that the Liberals brought forward a bill but have since realized that they are not satisfied with their own bill. They want to send it to committee so it can be fixed up a bit before sending it back to the House for second reading. I have never seen this before. It is highly unusual to proceed in this manner, and it is inappropriate. This government appears to be improvising and making things up as it goes along.
If the bill is no good, the government should scrap it and come back with a better bill. What is happening here today is ridiculous. We are talking about sending a bill directly to committee rather than debating it at second reading. This is absolutely unbelievable.
Where did this Bill C-59 come from? Members will recall that its predecessor was the Conservatives' infamous Bill C-51. This is a despicable bill that utterly fails to protect human rights. I will spend the next few minutes examining the bill in greater detail.
First of all, during the election campaign, the Liberals said they would repeal Bill C-51, which, as I said, was Mr. Harper's atrocious security bill. The government made us wait two years before coming up with something, and what it finally came up with does not even come close to solving the problem. In fact, this bill will allow the government to continue violating Canadians' privacy and will criminalize dissent, just as the Harper government's Bill C-51 did. This is an important issue I would like to take a closer look at.
There are some serious problems in the bill with respect to protecting privacy, especially in terms of sharing out-of-control information. The amendments to the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act are mostly superficial. In no way does this fulfill the promise we expected the Liberals to keep.
This is an omnibus bill that seeks to provide a legal framework allowing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, CSIS, to store sensitive metadata on totally innocent Canadians, a practice that the Federal Court ruled to be illegal. This bill does not really solve any problems. It creates new ones. There is currently a crisis of confidence in our national security agencies, especially CSIS, not because of the agencies, but because of the existing legislation. These agencies push the boundaries of the the law and they are not transparent about it, unfortunately. As far as security and intelligence are concerned, Canadians have to be sure that every Government of Canada department and agency is working effectively to ensure Canadians' safety, but also to preserve our rights and freedoms. That is the problem with Bill C-51. The government wanted to make Canadians safer, but there was nothing in that bill that provided greater safety or security.
However, a lot of the bill's provisions took away some of the rights enjoyed by Canadians. They actively undermined the privacy of Canadians and could potentially result in the criminalization of vulnerable groups, for example, environmentalists or advocates of other causes. I will explain later why I am mentioning this.
First, Bill C-51, known as the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, was passed with little debate. It was not really necessary. That is why we stated several times that this law weakened our security and diminished our right to the protection of privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of association.
This clearly shows that Bill C-51 was ill-conceived. For that reason, we did not support it. We believe that Bill C-51 must be repealed in full and that we must start over; it was Stephen Harper's bill, it did not work, and we have to scrap it right quick.
I would remind the House that, in 2016, the Federal Court ruled on the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's mass data collection. It found that CSIS illegally kept sensitive, personal electronic information for over 10 years. In this landmark ruling, Justice Simon Noël said that the CSIS had failed in its duty to inform the court of its data collection program and ruled that what it had done was illegal. What did the Liberals do in response? They decided that since such activity was illegal, they would draft a bill to make it legal.
Come on. The Federal Court said that what CSIS was doing did not make any sense, that it was illegal, and that it violated privacy rights, and so the Liberal government decided to make those illegal activities legal. That does not make any sense. I can see why the Liberals would want to send this to committee to make amendments and gut this bill. That is shameful.
The other problem that is not mentioned in this bill but that is important to talk about is all of the ministerial directives related to torture. That is very serious. It is something that I care a lot about, and I am convinced that everyone in the greater Drummond area sent me here to talk about this. It is extremely important.
We are calling on the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to repeal and replace the 2010 ministerial directive on torture to ensure that Canada stands for an absolute prohibition on torture. Specifically, we want to ensure that in no circumstances will Canada use information from foreign countries that could have been obtained using torture or share information that is likely to result in torture.
Canada says that it will not torture, but other countries will torture for us. The government would then take this information and impose sanctions.
This makes no sense. Torture must be denounced everywhere. We must never use information obtained under torture. Everyone knows that people will say anything when they are being tortured. Torture does not work and is immoral.
I hope that this government will wake up, because this goes back a long time. The Liberals have been in power for two years and they still have not improved the situation. We must show integrity, we must be strong, and we must say no to torture everywhere in the world. We must not use information obtained through torture or that may lead to torture.
In closing, since the government itself does not think that this is a good bill and wants to send it directly to committee, without going through second reading, I propose that, instead, the government withdraw the bill and introduce new, common sense legislation with the help of the other parties.