House of Commons Hansard #244 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was terrorist.

Topics

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. Yes, that is one of the measures that should be put in place. Of course, a distinction must be made between people who were born in Canada and those who received Canadian citizenship later in life. We need to acknowledge the difference there, of course.

However, it is important to say that, as soon as anyone decides to become a traitor, they become a direct enemy to their country. Strong and effective measures must be put in place, such as imprisonment or passport seizures. We need strong measures, for sure. Other countries have much more radical measures in this regard. Even the British have told their snipers to kill British citizens who acted as enemies to their country. We will not be going quite so far, of course, but we are asking the government to at least take a hard line when it comes to such individuals.

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles for bringing this motion forward today. He has been doing amazing work as our shadow minister of public safety, using his experience as a colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces to apply his knowledge and experience in making sure that Canadians are safe. National security should be paramount in all of our decision-making as parliamentarians. It is something we hope to see the Liberal government doing, but we are not witnessing that today.

It is disappointing to again be talking about how the Liberal government is not properly prosecuting ISIS terrorists returning to Canada. They are not being properly monitored by the Liberal government. This is an affront to our veterans and our troops who have gone over and fought against ISIS. It is a slap in their face for having gone and put their lives on the line to protect national security, fighting alongside our allies, and to protect the most vulnerable.

Let us not forget that ISIS terrorists conducted one of the greatest genocides we have witnessed in the 21st century. These are people who have no problem with throwing members of the gay community off buildings. They have no problem selling women and girls into sexual slavery. They have no problem in wiping out a complete culture, like the Yazidis, because of their religion. Ethnic cleansing, genocide, and mass atrocities are the hallmark of ISIS terrorists, and yet these are the people the Liberals want to reintegrate back into society. It is disgusting.

I met just yesterday with members of the Yazidi community, and they cannot believe that the government would reduce the number of Yazidi refugees welcomed into Canada so they can finally be protected and reunited with some of their family, even though their husbands, brothers, and fathers were crucified by ISIS, and their daughters, mothers, and sisters were sold into sexual slavery, albeit some of them have been able to get to Canada. However, the government has no problem welcoming those ISIS terrorists back into Canada and reintegrating them into our society.

How do we change that ideology after these people have already committed these mass atrocities, either directly or indirectly? They shared that ideology, but the Liberal dogma on this is what is problematic. It is almost a perversion to protect human rights and then to turn around and allow these terrorist criminals into our country, to allow them then to take poetry classes and become better bloggers, or maybe have a pottery class or two. That, to me, is something that we should be doing before they are radicalized, but once radicalized, I do not think we can reprogram them unless they are actually incarcerated.

We have talked about how our proud men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces have served this country by fighting alongside our allies in Iraq and supporting operations in Syria. However, earlier this year, it was the current government that removed the danger pay of some members of the Canadian Armed Forces who were part of Operation Impact in the fight against ISIS. It was only after veterans, members of the military and their families cried out, and after our work as the official opposition to hold the government to account on taking away the danger pay and tax benefits awarded to those who put their lives on the line in operational missions in the fight against terrorism that the Minister of National Defence and Treasury Board president backed down. Danger pay is $1,800 a month for all those who were deployed, and they deserve every penny. Canadians asked them to take on these roles, and they deserve every penny.

However, did the Liberals learn from this? Not at all. On September 1, they retroactively applied to September 1 a provision stating that special allowances would be cut of those members who are ill, injured, and cannot return to work within six months. This includes those enlisted in our special operations forces, fighter jet pilots, commandos of the JTF 2, or Joint Task Force 2, out there fighting ISIS, and our submariners. If they cannot get back to work within 180 days, they will lose their special allowances for the particular skills they have developed as members of the Canadian Armed Forces. That is almost $23,000 per year. It is ridiculous.

We framed it this way in the House. We can have two Canadians leave Canada and go to Iraq, one as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces to fight ISIS, and the other as a terrorist member of ISIS. If that soldier is injured out in the field, comes back and cannot get back to work within six months, he loses his special allowances of $23,000 a year. However, an ISIS terrorist coming back to Canada is welcomed with open arms by the Liberal government and put into reintegration programs. Again, that is a perversion of public policy. It is completely disgusting.

The Liberals really do not like to hear the truth. The public safety ministry is saying that returning foreign terrorist travellers and their families, specifically women and children, require proper disengagement and reintegration support. Again, I can see our doing that for someone who might have been exposed to it in our communities in Canada, but not once they have been abroad. We are seeing different members being interviewed, especially ISIS brides coming back with their families, who believe in the ideology of raising their children to commit jihad down the road. These individuals are not going to be reprogrammed.

The Liberals are committing $3.5 million to the community resilience fund to do all sorts of things like poetry, pottery, and blogging. Why we would want these terrorists back online to radicalize more people with better blogging techniques is beyond me. Again, it is the perversion of Liberal policy.

Instead of reintegrating these terrorists, they should be charged and arrested. They should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and incarcerated. Over a period of time, which might be life in prison or a 10 or 14-year sentence, they can be offered the proper programming so they can reintegrate into society as productive members of our public when they are released from jail. Terrorists should be in prison, not in poetry classes.

There are laws to support this, for example, high treason. Section 46 of the Criminal Code says that anyone who “assists an enemy at war with Canada, or any armed forces against whom Canadian Forces are engaged in hostilities, whether or not a state of war exists between Canada and the country whose forces they are”, commits treason. That is pretty clear.

Subsections 46(3) and (4) say that whether it is done as a conspiracy, an act, or an overt act, it is still called treason, a Criminal Code violation. High treason is punishable with a life sentence.

Section 83.181 mentions a 10-year sentence for anyone who attempts to or leaves Canada to become an activist in a terrorist group. Why are we not prosecuting them? These people left to become members of ISIS. They are terrorists committing jihad.

Section 83.19 says that it is punishable for a person even facilitating terrorist activities, whether or not they leave the country. Section 83.2 is about the commission of offence on behalf of a terrorist group and that the person doing so is liable for life in prison. Sections 82 and 83 of the Criminal Code go on about promotion and direction of terrorism, even when a person is leaving the country to be trained, as Criminal Code offences.

The question becomes why is the Liberal government not prosecuting these individuals, incarcerating them rather than giving them a hug and a poetry class?

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, the speech by the hon. member across the way is disappointing, and I will tell him why. There are a few pieces of information that he would know as fact, namely that if any government of any stripe, Conservative, Liberal, or one day an NDP government, sees that an individual has committed a terrorist act and has evidence of that, it would fully prosecute that person to the fullest extent possible under the law, without question.

Under 10 years of Conservative government, there were zero prosecutions of fighters returning to Canada. There were no prosecutions whatsoever. We already have two under way, and I would think the member would want to talk with us about how we can have more. I want to set the record straight on that point first.

Second, I would ask the member who so belittled and talked down anti-radicalization efforts, what would he say to security experts in Canada and across the world who state that we have an obligation to those individuals who have not committed violence, yet are on a track to doing so, an obligation that was unfulfilled and heavily criticised in the last 10 years, to ensure that they do not become terrorists, that we stop them before this happens. What does the member have against prevention?

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is typical Liberal mantra, with a member crossing the wires again. If he had listened to my speech, I said that anything we can do preventively upfront to de-radicalize people is money well spent, but this is not what the Liberals are saying. They are trying to de-radicalize those who are already radicalized and belong to ISIS. We have to remember the revisionist history the Liberals like to promote. ISIS only started losing territory in the last 18 months. We only started seeing ISIS terrorists return home in the last two years. Who was the government in the last two years? It was the Liberals.

These individuals have come back under the Liberals' watch. I would remind the member to look at the track record, which indicates that the first of the Toronto 18 domestic terrorists will be getting out of jail in January. I hope the Liberals look at that sentence and make sure he is not pardoned and given early parole. This is the individual who radicalized all of those youth and should be held behind bars to serve his entire sentence, not get early parole, which the Liberals love to do.

Fact and reality are different from what was just said by the parliamentary secretary. We need to make sure that we keep the record straight.

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to echo what the parliamentary secretary said insofar as if ever there were sufficient proof to lay charges against someone who had committed any kind of crime, whether it be terrorism or any form of violence, those charges would absolutely have be laid.

The challenge here that the motion seems to neglect is the fact that there is a whole slew of issues not actually being addressed. It is fine to enumerate points of the Criminal Code that these people may be in breach of, but the fact is, and the experts agree on this, that there are all sorts of challenges relating, for example, to the evidentiary standard with regard to intelligence gathering insofar as it would apply in court proceedings. There are challenges to actually getting that admissible in court.

When it comes to dealing with that situation, we need to interact positively with the government and help get that effort going so we can lay charges against these individuals, as opposed to fabricating the notion that somehow any one party would want to welcome dangerous people back with open arms. No, it is about due process, which is fundamental to or at the core of Canadian values.

I asked the sponsor of the motion why Conservatives continue to denigrate deradicalization efforts and was told that it was not what this is about, but that is exactly what the member just did in his speech. I am having a difficult time understanding why we are making these ludicrous comments about poetry readings and so on, when the reality is that these community grass roots efforts are sorely needed and will ensure public safety by making sure that these people are not radicalized in the first place.

In closing, may I add a good reminder that radicalization is not just about one group. It is important to keep that in mind.

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, the left, in both the Liberals and NDP, tend to get caught up in this whole issue of de-radicalization. Any preventative programming we can do, and working with communities, is a positive thing. I was at a meeting last night where there were a lot of people from the Iranian community. They are very concerned about how the Liberals have gone soft on terrorism. They are concerned we are not holding to account those who have joined terrorist organizations.

The problem is, we have a Criminal Code that says quite clearly terrorism and treason are indictable offences under the Criminal Code, but all the left can do is talk. They have taken “hug a thug” to “hug a terrorist” now.

The motion is about dealing with those who have already been convicted, or those who have participated in terrorist organizations by joining ISIS, al Qaeda, Al Shabaab, or any of the other different terrorist groups out there. Let us make sure we are holding those individuals to account. The Liberals are giving them a pass and putting our public safety at risk.

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my question, there is not a person in the House who does not unequivocally condemn terrorism. There is not one person in this place who would not, at the first opportunity if evidence presented itself, pursue to the fullest extent of the law somebody who committed an act of terror. To make the outrageous assertion that a member of any party in the House of Commons feels otherwise is unbecoming of this place and it is disgraceful that anyone would stand and make such a statement. We all unequivocally condemn the horrific acts of Daesh. Although we may disagree about the policies and the mechanisms that we use to go after terrorists, each and every one of us wants to hunt down and find those that would do others harm.

The member opposite made a few points that are concerning and I have unfortunately heard others in his party making the same points. He said he was not disparaging anti-radicalization efforts and yet in his speech he talked about poetry readings and how people are soft on individuals who would do us harm. The poetry reading he is talking about is in fact being conducted by a university aimed at young people who committed no crime, young people who might be starting down a dark path. God forbid we should use the arts to try to reach somebody who might be heading down a bad path. Is that the assertion Conservative members are making?

The entire focus of Conservative members on attacking our efforts on anti-radicalization shows the fundamental problem with the 10 years that they occupied office and their complete unwillingness to look at the need and imperative nature of prevention in all of its forms, whether or not it is health, crime, or terrorism. Terrorist acts have already been committed and I have already said we must pursue the individuals who committed those acts with every ounce of our force.

There are all sorts of terrorism that have not happened yet, people who have not yet been victimized, people who have not yet been attacked. Is it not our job every day in every single possible way to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that those who would seek to do us harm are pulled from that pack? Is it not our job to stop acts from happening before they are ever committed?

For some reason members of the opposition cannot get their heads around the idea that there are two separate but equally important priorities. The first is going after those who have committed wrongs and have already broken the law and who, with our international partners, we must pursue. The second are those who have not yet done harm, who are misled, who are beginning to head down a dark path, but who could be pulled away from that direction. There is nothing at odds about pursuing those two objectives at the same time.

The other problem that I have with the rhetoric that we are hearing from members on the other side is that it does not match their record. The Conservatives are now talking about the importance of protecting our communities, and I agree with them, but over the 10 years that they were in power they cut $1 billion from the very agencies designed to protect us. Let us go over those: $430 million cut from the RCMP; $390 million cut from the CBSA; $69 million cut from CSIS; $42 million cut from the Canadian security agency; and, $171 million cut from CATSA. Not only did they not keep up with inflation during that period for this ultimate priority that we all share, they slashed funding during that period of time.

The Conservatives talk about how Liberals will not pursue those who have come back to Canada. Two matters are actively being pursued to convict individuals where we have evidence and a decade under the Conservatives that number is zero, not a single one. It is a little rich for them to stand up and say there has been a sea change and suddenly now we are not doing anything.

It is the cloak that is put around it, as if they and they alone walk the streets concerned with protecting Canadians from terror. It is unbecoming of this place, and I wish that we could spend more time in this place having the kinds of intelligent debates that, frankly, we saw with all members including Conservative members around the security and intelligence framework, the kinds of conversations we are having around Bill C-59 right now to create the best and most leading-edge policy framework and oversight mechanisms and resources for our police. That is the debate that is worthy of this place, not this motion that we are going to spend a day talking about. It is unfortunate to try to angle for whatever particular partisan gain. Of course, in this place every day we try to advance what our party does well and they do poorly, but when it is framed this way it is so cynical.

With that, I want to point out one last thing as just a rebuke to what we heard earlier around the notion of extremism and to point out that not only do we hear the Conservatives belittling it in their text, but that in the 10 years they were there, the work to stop people walking the path of violent extremism simply was not done. According to Dr. Lorne Dawson of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society, “all the G20 nations...are convinced of the need to move into prevention program...” but “the previous conservative government had little or no interest in following up on this”. According to former CSIS analyst, Phil Gurski, the“previous government had an abysmal record when it came to countering violent extremism and early detection. The Conservative government didn't care.”

I do not know that the Conservatives did not care, I would not make that characterization, but I think their priorities were in the wrong place. I think that while they went after, rightfully, those who had committed acts, they did not do a fraction enough to go after those who were beginning to walk that dark path, and their lack of regard for it in their debate and their discussion on the motion is heavy evidence of it.

We recognize and condemn the depravity of groups like Daesh. That is why Canada has renewed our military commitment to the Global Coalition against Daesh until March 2019. In addition to training, advising, and assisting Iraqi security forces, we have expanded our intelligence capabilities, we are conducting aerial surveillance and recognizance to air-to-air refuelling, we are leading the coalition medical facility, and as the situation continues to evolve we will re-evaluate how the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces could be most effective and ensure that we equip them with the resources they need to get the job done.

On the home front, when people have given support to Daesh and other terrorist groups and they return to Canada, whether they were active in combat, fundraising, propaganda, or in some other way, they are confronted with the full weight of Canadian intelligence and law enforcement agencies controlling and managing their return. Canadians can be assured that our world-class security and intelligence law enforcement agencies actively track and assess all potential threats. To this end, they work 365 days a year with domestic and international partners, including Five Eyes, the G7, the European Union, Interpol, and many others. These are professional, non-partisan agencies whose skills and expertise are sought all over the world. They work for us. They worked for a Conservative government. They would work for an NDP government. They would work constantly, vigilantly, ceaselessly for any government of any stripe. It is what they did, it is what they do.

They monitor returning extremists closely and gather and share intelligence in accordance with the law. They conduct investigations, collect criminal evidence, and lay criminal charges wherever possible. They use Criminal Code tools like peace bonds and terrorist listings as well as no-fly lists, passport revocations, and other authorized threat disruption measures wherever appropriate. Whichever tool they use, their work is apolitical, based on expert assessments and threats to public safety and national security.

At a recent gathering in Italy, G7 interior ministers, including our Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, committed to working together to address this very issue. This will involve multi-agency co-operation, risk assessment, and possible interventions, as our allies continue to deal with this shared threat.

To give a sense of the situation on a global scale, I would direct hon. members to the most recent public report on the terrorist threat to Canada. It shows, for example, that over 6,600 extreme travellers from western countries went to Syria since the start of that conflict in 2011. The number of Canadians involved is relatively small, about 250, with a nexus to Canada have gone abroad to participate in terrorist activity of some kind. Some went to Syria and Iraq, and many others went to countries in conflict zones. Around 60 of them have returned to Canada. These were the numbers at the end of 2015.

CSIS confirmed in its annual public report released this past February that the numbers stayed largely stable, and that remains the case.

We should neither underestimate nor overestimate that threat. We should not understate it, because there are people who have felt, and may continue to feel, so strong an affinity for the vile ideology and conduct of groups like Daesh that they travelled halfway around the world to get involved. Some of them may have been active participants in brutal violence. Certainly, as the motion before us states, people who team up with terrorists are complicit in atrocities, must be found, must be convicted, and must be put in jail.

When these individuals return to Canada, they merit and receive the full attention of our security intelligence law enforcement agencies. At the same time, that is exactly why we should not overstate the threat. Our expert, highly-skilled, highly-trained security services are on the job. They lay charges when there is evidence to support charges. Even when there is not enough evidence for criminal prosecution, they keep a close tab on these individuals to ensure Canadians are kept safe. They evaluate the extent to which each returnee remains bent on radical violence and they take appropriate measures to keep us safe.

As for the 100 to 190 Canadians who remain abroad, experts do not necessarily expect a great influx back to Canada. For one thing, many of them may be dead. Of those who are still alive, it may not be easy to leave whatever country they are in, and some of them may not want to. For those who do come back and face the same full force of our security and intelligence, it will be exactly the same treatment as those who arrived here already.

That is how we deal with people who have been radicalized. It is, of course, far preferable to prevent radicalization from happening in the first place, which is why I spent so much of my initial conversation in my speech talking to this point.

That is why we have established the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence. Setting up this new centre was a commitment we made during the last election. We set aside funding for it in our very first budget, and it has been up and running since June. Canada has certain local initiatives, such as the Centre de prévention de la radicalisation menant à la violence, Montréal and the ReDirect program run by the Calgary Police Service. These programs and others like them engage in direct intervention with people at risk of being radicalized.

Our new federal centre is not meant to supplement. Rather, it is a coordinating body that helps local initiatives work to prevent violent extremism of all kinds. It includes Islamic extremism, white supremacy, and others.

The centre also facilitates the best practices and supports research to develop an evidence base about what approaches work best to combat radicalization in the Canadian context. This is important, and prevention is really the most effective way of reducing the threat posed by radicalization in the long run, not instead of a robust security and enforcement response, but in addition to it.

Therefore, I hope we are hearing, from the comments opposite, an approach that is misled. There is a need to ensure we approach both sides of the equation with equal vigour.

I would also like to address the motion's reference to the case of Omar Khadr.

Canadians obviously hold deeply divergent views about how he ended up on a battlefield in Afghanistan in 2002, and about what happened there. It was undoubtedly a tragic situation, particularly for the family and friends of Sergeant Christopher Speer, who was killed, and for Sergeant Layne Morris, who was injured.

There is conflicting evidence and commentary about what occurred on that day, 15 years ago. There is, however, no ambiguity about the fact that the Government of Canada violated Mr. Khadr's rights when he was in custody. The Supreme Court has been very clear on that point, on not one occasion but two.

Court proceedings have already cost upward of $7 million and prolonging them would have cost millions more, not to mention the cost of settlement itself, all to fight a case that was virtually unwinnable for reasons that were purely political. The settlement was the only sensible course of action. It saved taxpayers an enormous amount of money. It reminds us of the fundamental point that Canadian governments must apply the Constitution, follow the law, and respect the rights of citizens no matter how controversial they might be.

I am proud to be part of a government that upholds Canadian rights and I am proud to be part of a government that prioritizes the security of Canadians. We know that when there is a difficult case, when there is to be an arbiter of whether a Canadian citizen's rights were violated, it is not this place but the courts that make that determination. It is the courts that tell us whether our charter has or has not been upheld. When we violate fundamental rights, there has to be a consequence. Our charter is a document that protects each and every one of us. That is what can be so dangerous in this debate.

Each and every one of us has an incredible zeal to protect our fellow citizen. Probably all members here, if they were to list the top two or three things they wanted when the came to this place, was to make their communities safer, to make their families safer, to make their friends and neighbours safer. It is a prime motivator, I believe, for almost any person who runs in an election. However, when we get here, in our zeal to do so, we have to ensure we do it right. Yes, we go after those who perpetrate violence and create victims and ensure they are incarcerated and face justice. Similarly, we have to ensure those same actions do not transcend into violations of the rights of innocent people.

We can look at the O'Connor and Iacobucci inquiries and the recommendations that came out of them. Serious failures in our intelligence and security led to innocent people facing dire circumstances. Freedom is delicate. It must be carefully guarded. Those who would attack us or commit terrorism hope we will suspend freedom, live in terror, and lead our lives differently. However, when we get the opportunity to be in a free country, we have to hold that responsibility close. That balance of prevention, enforcement, protection, and the guaranteeing of rights is one that we must debate with the utmost caution, weight, consideration, and lack of partisanship. I hate to say it, but this motion fails on that account.

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I heard the word “rights” used a lot. Some members may know that I worked very diligently on the LGBTQ2 apology. I have opened a lot of doors in that community and people now come to me to share some of their views. Within two hours of that apology, I started being contacted by people who were part of that community, saying they were Muslim gay men and they feared for their lives now with the return of ISIS fighters.

We talk about the rights of ISIS fighters, but I want to know what the rights of people are, those who came to Canada in fear of their lives because these people torture, buried alive, and a variety of other things that specific population. We know that gay men were buried alive by ISIS fighters within their own communities and culture. What about the rights of those people who feel they will be victimized, now they are Canadians, by these ISIS terrorists?

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member's question drives to the heart of exactly what I was talking about, and that is the paramount nature of our charter.

I have been very lucky to have a close relationship with a lot of different communities in my riding. When we debated the matter of equal marriage, I went into mosques and told them that the charter protected those in the mosque and also the LGBTQ2 community and that equal marriage was fundamental and sacrosanct. I also told them that there may be a day when people or a government might turn on their rights, when they felt their rights were not so important. I told them that the charter, which annoyed them because it protected people who they did not think should be protected, would suddenly become their closest friend, their greatest shield. This is exactly why the courts, not this place, protect that charter. Absolutely, without question, if people are gay Muslims, of if they are asexual, or anything they want to be, I do not care, their rights have to be protected.

Hate in all forms is abhorrent. I do not see the point here except to say that the a balance must be struck. For the person who makes an Islamophobic comment, that it is detestable. Anybody who makes a comment against somebody because of his or here sexual orientation is equally abhorrent.

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech and for setting the record straight.

As he is well aware, I often strongly disapprove of the Minister of Public Safety's decisions, especially when it is being insinuated that, if they were in government, any other person or party in the House would settle for anything short of prosecution in cases where there is sufficient proof to lay charges.

The debate about the efforts being made to counter radicalization is very important. My colleague spoke at length about the motion, and I would like to ask him a question. There has been some talk about jailing fighters who return to Canada, but experts have raised concerns about that approach, believing prisons themselves to be breeding grounds for radicalization.

As part of its counter-radicalization strategy, does the federal government intend to deploy similar efforts in prisons?

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. There is no doubt that this is a very important issue.

We must ask ourselves what happens to people when they go to prison. In the current context, that is a good question. What kind of people will they be when they are released? Will they be ready to rejoin society? Will they be able to make a positive contribution to our culture and society? That is one of the reasons that the time they spend in prison is important in our view.

I spent a lot of time touring virtually every federal penitentiary in the country when I was the critic in opposition. I saw some pretty horrible conditions. Given the fact that 93% of those who go into prison will come out, we have to be preoccupied with who comes out those doors.

I know this is a matter of preoccupation and concern for the member. I look forward to working with him closely on this.

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Saint-Jean Québec

Liberal

Jean Rioux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, Canada combats terrorism both inside and outside its borders, and we are proud of our results in Iraq. However, the consequence is that some people will return here.

I find the alarmist tone adopted by our Conservative friends to be unfortunate because we have a number of security measures at our disposal, including surveillance, the revocation of passports, the no-fly list, and criminal charges when there is sufficient evidence. In fact, when they were in government, the Conservatives cut $1 billion from surveillance and they laid no charges against those people. We should also bring some perspective to the number of people that could return; we are talking about approximately 180 people.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety establish that Canadians can have confidence in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service?

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that everyone in Canada and around the world working hard to protect our country and ensure the safety of all Canadians is doing an incredible job.

First, it is important not only that we have faith in them but that we put in oversight mechanisms to make sure that they are doing that job well. It is not just us patting ourselves on the back. We need oversight mechanisms to make sure that we are conducting that work appropriately. Second, we have to acknowledge when there have been failures and put in mechanisms to fix them.

Unfortunately, in this job, I have had occasion to sit across from people who have been the victims of terror or who have lost loved ones at the hands of terrorism. It is gut wrenching. I have also sat across from innocent Canadians who were wrongly accused, who it later turned out had done no wrong, and who wound up in foreign jails for years, away from their families, being tortured and taking incredible amounts of psychological abuse.

That is why this balance is so important. It is not a competition of one against the other. We can ensure our security while also protecting our rights.

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a member of Parliament, I get to see some great speeches and great debates, and today has certainly been one of those occasions. I would like to thank the hon. member from Ontario for what I thought was a very enlightened debate.

I would like to go back to the key point he made that all Canadians and all parliamentarians are preoccupied with the safety and security of Canadians. It would be unfair and below the dignity of this place to say otherwise.

Could the hon. member please tell this House how the government uses the full panoply of tools available to it to make sure that we are fighting radicalization in all its forms before people are radicalized, during the time they decide to engage in that activity, and afterwards?

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his excellent question. When we look at how we are building up Canada's capacity to deal with any radicalization, unfortunately, for a decade, it was a neglected area.

A lot of it is done at the community level, because what works in one context will not work in another. That is not only true in a Canadian context but is true abroad.

We have to look at the reasons that horrific act happened in Sainte-Foy. I ended last week with victims of that tragedy, who witnessed it happen in a place they thought was safe. We have to ask what the context is that led a person to commit such an act of hate. Where do we draw the line back to where that process of radicalization began so that we can get people way before they ever commit such a heinous act? It means investing in communities and understanding that radicalization, in all its forms and permutations, requires different solutions. We have to work at the community level, and that is what our efforts to end radicalization are about.

The more we dial down the hyperbole, the more we stop saying that this person does not care and that person cares too much, or that this person is trying to hug a criminal and that person is trying to lock someone away forever for something minor, the more we get away from that kind of frame and say that we all share the same objective. It is a question of a policy approach. It is question of who has the best evidence or the best direction we can take to get it done. We can then have a debate that is real, honest, and beneficial to actually getting the results we all care about.

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in my questions to the parliamentary secretary, it goes without saying that we condemn the terrorist and violent acts committed by ISIS as well as by neo-Nazi groups, for example; we are disgusted by them.

Not only should all forms of terrorism be condemned, but we also find that our measures provide sufficient evidence to lay criminal charges. The parties all agree on that.

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the fantastic interpreters here in the House, it is worth repeating in both official languages that we find any violence committed by any terrorist group, whether it is ISIS or neo-Nazis, to be abhorrent and something we denounce. Insofar as we have the evidence required to go ahead with criminal proceedings and press charges, it should absolutely be done. That is not something up for debate, no matter which party is in power. On that, I certainly agree with the parliamentary secretary.

The sad part about trying to politicize a situation that is obviously very worrisome for all Canadians, as it pertains to their safety and security, is that when it comes to radicalization we have to ask ourselves what is the best way to address it. I heard the Conservatives say that this is not about people who are in the process of being radicalized, but about those who already were and have now returned.

With that in mind, it is very important to remember that the problem does not lie with our legislation or political will; in fact, we are talking about the justice system and not a political decision. It is about adapting to the standards of proof.

The way evidence is admitted in court is extremely important when we look at this particular issue of foreign fighters returning to Canada, in particular in what way intelligence gathered can be admissible as evidence in court. Even experts have had a hard time grappling with how we can lay charges with that evidence. That is something we acknowledge the government needs to look at and work on. It is certainly something that could help law enforcement press charges when they may be required.

When we are looking at pressing charges, it is not just what evidence is admissible. It is also the question of even laying terrorism charges, which is something we did not see in the previous Parliament under the previous government and that we have now seen twice under the current government. It is complicated, because as experts have said, often terrorism charges do not relate to the violence in and of itself, which usually falls under another part of the Criminal Code. Terrorism charges usually relate to the planning of said violence, which makes it very difficult, especially when we fall into the trap, as with this motion, of targeting specific groups.

I will explain why. Members will recall the horrible massacre in Moncton. By all accounts, this man committed a terrorist act. In fact, he confirmed that he wanted to attack the RCMP because it supported a government he thought was corrupt. I do not think this can be described as anything other than a terrorist act, and yet no one calls it that.

The attack at the Métropolis against a newly elected Quebec premier could also be considered a terrorist act.

However, in both of these cases, no terrorism-related criminal charges were laid. Criminal charges were obviously laid, but these charges fell under other parts of the Criminal Code.

This is a very important point, because it shows how difficult it is to judge motives and to define terrorism. This is unfortunately extremely complicated, and we need to work on that.

I also think it is important to trust the men and women who work for our national security agencies and police forces—in the case, the RCMP. It goes without saying that if they collect enough evidence, we can, and should, be confident that they will file criminal charges. The problem is how to obtain this evidence and whether the evidence is admissible. There is no point laying criminal charges if the person ends up being released because of a lack of evidence. This may be annoying, but this is the reality of our legal system, and we must respect that. This is exactly what terrorists want to attack. If we cannot respect this pillar of our democracy, we are doomed. This is very important here.

The other point is the question of resources, which is extremely important and which we raised over the course of the debate on what was Bill C-51 in the previous Parliament.

We can change the law. We can make the strictest laws possible. We can say we are going to throw everyone in jail and throw away the key, but if the men and women in uniform do not have the human and financial resources to do the work, the law is useless. That is a key issue here.

The commissioner of the RCMP has said that the focus on radical Islam has taken away from other investigations at a time when we are seeing a rise in hate crimes, a rise in anti-Semitism, which are also forms of radical violence and are, in some cases, forms of radical terrorism.

It is important to keep in mind that it is not always a legal issue. It is sometimes the political will to provide the appropriate resources to the national security agencies and police bodies, something that, unfortunately, certainly was not done in the last Parliament, and there is more work to be done in the current Parliament. That is important to keep in mind if we actually want the RCMP, among others, to have the resources to do the work they need to do to keep Canadians safe.

Getting back to the subject of radicalization, which is at the heart of today's motion, I asked the sponsor why the Conservatives have been so intent on disparaging anti-radicalization efforts. I was told that this is not about being for or against radicalization, but right after his speech, his colleague spent at least five minutes sneering at anti-radicalization efforts. That makes absolutely no sense.

During the last Parliament, nothing of substance was done to fight radicalization. Although I frequently disagree with the public safety minister's stance on issues, I am pleased to see that something is finally being done at the community level to fight radicalization through a centre set up to fund local projects. The Conservatives scoffed at those projects in their motion, as did their critics in their speeches on the subject. That is a shame.

If we really want to keep our communities safe, we have to fight radicalization and make sure people do not leave in the first place. Extremist groups such as Islamic State and far-right groups such as neo-Nazis often exploit young people with mental health problems. We need to help those young people not because they should be treated as victims but to ensure public safety, which requires a concerted, community-wide approach.

I asked the parliamentary secretary a question about what is being done in prisons.

I overheard a comments from a Conservative that we are saying to not put them in jail, because they are going to be radicalized there. That is not what we are saying. We are saying that we cannot do one without the other. The experts all say that one of the worst places for being radicalized is in prison. If there are criminal charges brought and people are found guilty, certainly no one is debating whether they should be in prison. The issue is that when they are in prison, we need to make sure that the programs are there to get to the root of that radicalization that is taking hold and leading them to be a threat to national security and public safety. That is what is at stake here. If we just want to incarcerate and forget about it, to see no evil and hear no evil, those people, if they ever get out, will have slipped through the cracks and will not only be people society has not come in aid of but will be people who will pose a threat to public safety. If the objective here is to protect public safety, then let us make sure we are cutting the evil that is radicalization off at the root, and that means providing the proper programs.

As I said, I recognize the efforts the government has made to begin working with and funding best practices in some of those efforts, but more needs to be done. Again, prisons are one example. I appreciate the openness the parliamentary secretary has shown to recognizing that this is an issue and to working on it, but more needs to be done.

Let us move on to the matter of counter-radicalization, which is something else that is of great concern to me. What are we talking about? Some people go abroad and are labelled as “fighters”. In some cases, they do not commit any acts of violence, which is why it is so important to have evidence. In fact, sometimes these people are victims. Some of them are taken over there by their families. They are vulnerable people who quickly realize after arriving that they have made a mistake, and who then come back to Canada without committing any acts of violence.

Will some of these individuals be criminally prosecuted? Of course, but evidence is needed. Rather than heckling and shouting “yes”, we must understand the nuances of the situation. We have to understand that our system is a system of law. I am not talking about rights and freedoms. I am talking about a system of law, the rule of law. It is important to understand that simply making a list of people and sending them all to prison is not an effective approach to public safety. We have to have evidence, and we have to understand the challenges associated with that evidence, challenges that experts have told us about.

The Conservative member is heckling me by shouting “yes, we have to do it”. If we move forward with these criminal charges, we need to make sure that they will result in prison sentences. Rather than blaming the government and engaging in a senseless dialogue by claiming that some people in the House are seeking to jeopardize the safety of Canadians, we need to understand that there is work to do to ensure that the national security agencies and police forces that have the evidence they need to successfully prosecute will do so. Everyone would be pleased if that happened, because it would help keep Canadians safe.

Let us engage in a positive dialogue. That is the approach that we are advocating today. It is no secret that I disagree with the approach of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, but one thing is certain and leaves no room for debate: we want keep to Canadians safe and ensure public safety.

In that context, when we are looking at such an important issue as this one, to engage in dog-whistle politics and use expressions like “welcomed with open arms” and to throw things out about reading poetry, to denigrate counter-radicalization efforts, does a disservice to the men and women doing the serious work of making sure Canadians are safe, does a disservice to this House where we all believe in the importance of ensuring Canadians' safety, and does a disservice to the real efforts and debate that need to happen over the proper way of dealing with the situation.

As part of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security's review of Canada's national security framework, we travelled for one week, stopping in five cities in five days. We stopped in Montreal, where we had the opportunity to visit the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence. This centre is one of a kind in North America. It is so unique that it receives calls from families in New York who are worried about the possible radicalization of a friend, a family member, or even a child in some cases.

We sat down with the team at the centre and had a nuanced discussion. It was clear that these people fully understood that in many cases, the RCMP and our national security agencies have a role to play and a job to do if they are to catch those who pose a threat to public safety and security.

The collaboration between our police forces and national security agencies has been outstanding. They have also made an effort to reach out to the community and to concerned families and individuals. This work did not focus on any community more than another. An attack like the one committed at the Islamic cultural centre in Quebec City is just as troubling as an attack like the one that took place in Edmonton. Both are equally troubling, and the centre acknowledges that.

The people who fight against radicalization fully understand what we are saying today in the House. Yes, we need to consider prosecution. Yes, we need to make sure that anyone we can press charges against is actually prosecuted. However, we must also recognize that simply acknowledging one facet of an extremely complicated and important issue does not diminish the need to hold this debate and offer concrete solutions. Not only would concrete solutions help us ensure public safety, but they would also keep youth from falling through the cracks and possibly save them from the scourge of radicalization.

In closing I want to say, as I have said several times in my speech, that the minister and I certainly have our differences, and it is no secret in this place, but there is one thing to which we will always commit, and that is working together to ensure the safety of Canadians, no matter what the partisan issue is.

To do that, there is a lot that needs to be done. I have mentioned some of it: getting terrorism charges right, getting the peace bond process right, getting the evidentiary process right with regard to intelligence gathering. These are all challenges that we have in getting the counter-radicalization efforts right.

The government has taken some good steps. We think we can do more, including doing it in federal prisons, and making sure that, in some instances where there are best practices, there is more robust federal leadership despite the importance of supporting those grassroots efforts.

Those are all things on which we are ready to work with the government. It is part of the reason why it is so disappointing to hear the kind of hyperbole we hear today. When it comes to ensuring public safety, there are important measures that need to be taken. It is not about stoking and fanning the flames of fear, but rather about standing in this place and having the courage to take on these important challenges that we face, and that all experts agree are challenging but are at the core of the mandate we have as parliamentarians.

I am very happy to say that the NDP is committed to working with the government on all the points that I mentioned.

No proposal, whether Bill C-51, introduced during the last Parliament, or Bill C-59, should ever implement more draconian public safety legislation at the expense of rights and freedoms. However, that does not preclude concrete efforts from being made, for instance, providing more resources to the RCMP and other national security agencies and strengthening our counter-radicalization efforts. We have to do what we can to truly put an end to this scourge instead of simply focusing on one aspect of the issue and moving on.

There is still a lot of work to be done. Let us set aside this kind of rhetoric and ensure that we are doing our job properly because that is what Canadians expect from us.

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

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

Today's debate seems to be getting a little off topic. Our motion relates to the 180 identified individuals who left Canada to wage jihad overseas. We know that 60 of them have returned to Canada, and we have no information about the others.

Today we are debating the fact that the government refuses to provide Canadians with any clear and precise information. Who are those individuals? Where are they? What are they doing? This has nothing to do with deradicalization and the ongoing programs for people here. This is about the people who decided to go and fight alongside Canada's enemy.

We invested billions and hundreds of millions of dollars in bombing them and fighting them on the ground. The first step in the government's plan was to withdraw our CF-18s. I do not want to hear about deradicalization today. That is not what our motion is about.

We want to know what they are doing. We also want to know the government's position on these enemies of Canada, these traitors to our nation.

Could my colleague who just spoke forget about deradicalization, which is not the subject of today's debate, and tell us whether he agrees that the government should provide us with more details about the situation?

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, in reading the motion, I do not see anything about the issues my colleague just raised, such as the number of fighters and what has been done. The motion is written in general terms.

It is this type of discourse and vagueness that spreads fear without really tackling the problem. That is why today's motion misses the mark.

My colleague says he does not want to hear about the fight against radicalization. It was the previous government's refusal to talk about it that caused its abysmal failure on this file. That is the problem.

I said it in my speech, and I will repeat it for my colleague and for the parliamentary secretary. This is serious. I am now having to defend the government. We said the same thing: if there is enough evidence for the police to lay charges, they should do so. We would be very pleased to see that because it contributes to public safety. In some cases, however, criminal proceedings are not successful because the complexities of the law as regards the admissibility in court of certain evidence must be reviewed. The Conservatives' problem is that they ignored that fact as well as the fight against radicalization. That is exactly why we find ourselves in this situation.

We must stop ignoring the real problem and deal with this to ensure public safety.

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I want to make two points.

The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has said categorically that all the people who can be charged will be charged to the full extent of the law, just like any other criminal. It is surprising to me, maybe embarrassing for the Conservatives, that the two speakers who should know something about this, the sponsor and a critic, are not aware of that. Just to make sure that the people of Canada are aware of that and that any future Conservative speakers are aware, those who can be charged will be charged to the full extent of the law. The member made that point and the parliamentary secretary made that point.

Regarding the people who are left who cannot be charged and what we should do with them, the second Conservative speaker said they cannot be changed or rehabilitated, nothing can happen, whereas the rehabilitation efforts of the government, as emphasized by the speaker opposite, belie the whole attitude to making Canada safer. The parliamentary secretary said that 93% of people who go to jail will come out again. If we do nothing, if we have that philosophy that nothing can be done to rehabilitate them, what a dangerous place Canada would be. Maybe it does not always work, but it certainly works in a lot of cases and Canada is a lot safer because of it.

I really appreciated the member's speech in making that point about rehabilitation, both for these people coming back and for all criminals.

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again it is worth repeating in our other official language that there is no doubt in my mind that no one in this House is saying that, should law enforcement agencies have sufficient evidence, they should not lay charges and prosecute anyone who should be prosecuted. There is no debate about that, despite what we seem to be hearing.

However, the issue here is that simply prosecuting and incarcerating is not the end of the story and that is what is at play here. Even as I said in my question for the parliamentary secretary, no one is saying that someone who is found guilty in a court of law should not go to prison. What we are saying, as the experts are saying, is that prisons are some of the worst places to become radicalized for some of the violent ideologies.

Therefore, we should be making sure that there are programs in place so that we are attacking the horrifying notion that is radicalization in the system, while ensuring public safety. If the Conservatives do not understand that ignoring the fight against radicalization for 10 years was not the right approach, then I do not know what to tell them, because everyone agrees that terrorism is horrible and if we have enough proof we need to prosecute, but we also need to attack the root of this, which is radicalization, something that they choose to ignore.

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Saint-Jean Québec

Liberal

Jean Rioux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I thank my riding neighbour for reassuring people, unlike those who frightened them by making $1 billion in cuts to public safety and failing to bring charges against people coming back to Canada. My riding neighbour and I were particularly affected by the death of Warrant Officer Vincent three years ago. We have every right to be concerned about our communities.

Could the member confirm to me that our constituents and all Canadians are safe, that they can have confidence in Canada's security and intelligence system, and that human rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are being respected?

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my riding neighbour for his question. Just because I am not rending my shirt and fearmongering does not mean that I do not recognize the fundamental importance of addressing this issue. Obviously, there is work to be done. We are committed to fully participating in any effort we feel is valid to address the scourge of radicalization and bring criminal charges, where appropriate.

However, we also have a responsibility to assess the situation and understand the reasons behind it. The goal here is not to write a thesis on the issue, but if we really want to protect public safety, we need to deal with the scourge of radicalization. We are duty bound. We must also find the best ways to keep the public safe. Incarceration is one of them, of course, but if we only focus on that, our approach will fail just like the previous government's.

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

December 4th, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, as members of Parliament, we all receive correspondence from constituents that is frequently critical of other countries' judicial systems not upholding the rule of law and making sure those who are charged with a crime get their day in court. However, some of those same voices turned a blind eye to the process that went on at the Bagram air force base and Guantanamo Bay, which we know did not meet our high standards of justice.

That is important to raise, because my colleague was talking about the importance of the rule of law and making sure our judicial system has the resources. If the state is so sure of a guilty verdict, it should be prepared to bring that person to court, bring the evidence through, and charge and convict them the way we afford everyone in Canadian society. It is important to bring up, because in this motion we see specific mention of Omar Khadr and the process he went through. Earlier this year, I had the chance to meet with his lawyer, Dennis Edney, and ask him why he took that case against all the advice of his colleagues. He said it was because the rule of law was not followed.

I would like my colleague to comment on if we are to have confidence in our justice system, and to talk about the importance of a government not cherry-picking when our rights apply and when they do not. If we are so sure of a guilty verdict, the state should have the resources to put a person through our court system and get a guilty verdict in the same way that is afforded to all people who are charged with crimes.

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, from the work my colleague has done on the justice file and on that committee, he will recognize, as I do, that on many of these public safety and justice issues there is one thing that bears repeating which is too often forgotten in these types of debates. That is, the fact that respect for due process and disgust of abhorrent things that have been done by certain people are not mutually exclusive. It is about time we repeat that over and over again, because it is so important to recognize that respecting due process is, as far as I am concerned, one of the pillars of our democracy. Saying that we respect it and want it to happen properly, as well as looking at ways we can improve it to make certain things perhaps easier, does not necessarily take away from the fact that we find absolutely abhorrent the things we see happening with regard to terrorism and other forms of violence.

That is a key point. If we continue to dismiss the importance of due process and go into this type of thinking where somehow what happens in places like Guantanamo Bay is acceptable, then that is when radicalization wins. It is up to us to stand against that, recognize that we all want the same thing, public safety for Canadians, but also realize that there is a proper way to go about it. That is what we are committed to do. If the government has good ideas, we are certainly going to support that. If the ideas are not as good, we will certainly be critical of that. However, we all need to have that debate in a specific context. We all recognize the importance of these issues.

Opposition Motion—ISIS Fighters Returning to CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.

I rise in support of my colleague's motion to condemn ISIS terrorists and their supporters and to call on the Liberal government to not allow Canada to become a safe haven for terrorists.

As I have said in this place before, the top priority of the House must be the protection of all Canadians. The protection of our people should be placed ahead of political manoeuvring and should be of top concern for all members of Parliament regardless of their party.

This view is shared by my Liberal colleagues on the public safety and national security committee, who earlier this year endorsed a national security report that stated, “National security is one of the most fundamental duties—if not the most fundamental duty—conferred upon a government.” On the issue of Canadians who have left Canada to join ISIS and are now returning to Canada, the Liberal government is failing to meet the national security report standard.

The government's threat level is currently at medium as a result of growing terrorist attacks and threats globally and here at home. A medium threat level is where a violent act of terrorism could occur.

A 2016 CSIS publication titled “The Foreign Fighters Phenomenon and Related Security Trends in the Middle East” stated clearly, “One does not have to speculate terribly much to see the potential threat from ISIL to the West given its vast cadre of foreign fighters native to, or previously resident in, those countries. This unprecedented pool of foreign recruits suggests that ISIL would certainly have the capability to undertake...attacks”.

We owe it to those who sacrificed and fought to protect Canada from threats both foreign and domestic. Our armed forces, our veterans, our police, and our national security agencies have paid a price to give us the freedoms we enjoy today. We owe it to every Canadian to ensure that all reasonable and lawful measures are taken to protect our nation from the threat of those who would do us harm and compromise our national security.

Let us be clear. Canadians are strongly opposed to welcoming terrorists back to Canada. We should not mince words, ISIS fighters are terrorists. They are people who have publicly beheaded Canadians and other westerners. They have burned other human beings alive. They have drowned people in cages. They have thrown people off buildings for simply being who they are. They have raped and enslaved women and girls. There appears to be no manner of unspeakable atrocities that ISIS terrorists would stop at to harm those who are not deemed to be true believers.

If we as a House cannot come together to condemn ISIS and their atrocities, if members of the House cannot stand against oppression, slavery, murder, and war, if we cannot agree to oppose the annihilation of the freedoms of worship, belief, and association, then the House has lost its moral compass and its moral authority. ISIS terrorists stand against everything we as Canadians hold as fundamental to our way of life, the very foundations of our society.

There are clear tools to deal with these threats however. Canadians who attempt to travel to join ISIS are recognized and have been convicted under the Criminal Code for treason, which is a crime against our society and our country. Canadians who participate with ISIS, al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups that seek to kill and destroy all who oppose their strict doctrine and beliefs, are in reality committing treason against Canada, and there are charges that can be levied in Canada for returning ISIS terrorists as well. That is treason.

In Canada there are two criminal charges of treason. The first is high treason, which is defined under Section 46 of the Criminal Code as being those who levy war against Canada or assist an enemy at war with Canada, or any armed forces against whom Canadian Forces are engaged in hostilities, whether or not a state of war exists between Canada and the country whose forces they are. In my view, this describes those Canadians who have taken arms and joined with the radical ISIS terrorist groups to attack humanity

There is also the charge of treason, which includes those who in Canada conspire with any person to commit high treason or to do anything to use force or violence for the purpose of overthrowing the Government of Canada. In fact, the Criminal Code is explicit that for Canadian citizens, treason applies while in or out of Canada.

There is another tool for the government to use to help protect the security of our country. That would be to revoke the Canadian citizenship of dual citizens who have travelled overseas to join or to commit terrorist acts. When the Liberals passed Bill C-6 in June 2017 they removed the authority to strip dual citizens of their Canadian status if convicted of terrorism, treason, or espionage. Therefore, today, we cannot stop these people from returning, and we cannot deport them either. Moreover, as Canada falls behind other western countries in taking away citizenship from these terrorists and extremists, it makes Canada the destination by default for anyone with Canadian citizenship.

Canadians oppose ISIS terrorists returning to Canada, or rejoining our society. These terrorists have, by virtue of participation and their acts against others, forfeited that right. Based on the law of armed conflict, ISIS terrorists are legitimate targets for such a time as they take part in hostilities at both the operational and tactical levels for international engagement for Canadian soldiers.

Stuart Hendin, a lawyer and instructor at the Royal Military College, and the Canadian Forces College, was explicit that the government can target ISIS, Canadian or not, who are engaged in conflict. Unfortunately, unlike many of our allies, Canada, under the Liberals, has withdrawn from this active conflict. If the government will not stop this evil from returning to Canada, will it not vigorously pursue charges of treason? If we are going to provide funding to reform ISIS collaborators, something the Minister of Public Safety has admitted has a very low probability of actually occurring, let it be from behind bars. Let them begin to repay their debt to humanity as soon as they set foot back on our soil. We should treat ISIS terrorists as the criminals they are. Should they receive any support from the taxpayer, whether to de-radicalize or reintegrate, let that funding flow through Correctional Service Canada.

There can be no forgiveness without repentance. The Bible says in Luke 17:3, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” All who have supported and fought for ISIS are rebuked by the citizens of Canada, if not by the government. For Canadians linked to ISIS, let them serve a sentence in Canada and do their penance, under far more generous conditions I might add than under the oppressive regimes they support. Only then should there be forgiveness and acceptance into our society.

The minister and his parliamentary secretary have said all that can be done is being done. However Canadians are confused about the government's position and actions regarding these terrorists. On November 23, the media asked the Minister of Public Safety directly if passports were being taken away, if names were being added to the no-fly list, and if these people were neutralized in terms of a threat. The minister says that steps are beginning to be taken and that all Canadians can be assured they are safeguarding the security of the country. While I and my colleagues appreciate that disclosing specifics on security operations would be counterproductive, the minister's comments that steps are beginning to be taken are not a strong reassurance to Canadians that the Liberal government is on top of this issue.

What I will commit to with the Minister of Public Safety and the government is we will work together to get this issue of national security and public safety right for the best interests of all Canadians.