House of Commons Hansard #261 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.


The House resumed from November 29 consideration of the motion that Bill C-371, An Act respecting the prevention of radicalization through foreign funding and making related amendments to the Income Tax Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Prevention of Radicalization through Foreign Funding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:10 p.m.


Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate. As we continue to read Bill C-371, I would like to say that I support the purpose of the bill and the ideas that inspired it.

Curbing or preventing the flow of money that supports terrorism is one of the government's key concerns. Bill C-371 seeks to prevent the flow into Canada of foreign funds donated by sources who have been associated with radicalization. During our last debate, several hon. members pointed out that there was some overlap in the bill that conflicts with mechanisms that are already in place in Canada.

The bill also has significant flaws that would be hard to overcome. For example, under Bill C-371 some charitable organizations might be unduly penalized. This would prevent religious, cultural, or educational institutions in Canada from accepting money or goods from sources affiliated with the countries on the list, including senior officials, family members, or partners. Accepting donations from these individuals would become a crime.

The problem is that there would be no list of individuals barred from donating. Charities would have to do thorough background checks on everyone who offers them a cheque, and could face criminal penalties if they fail to do so. The due diligence required would be excessively complex and would require investigative capacity well beyond that available to most charities. Furthermore, the government would probably not be able to enforce the prohibitions in the bill because they are too vague and general. For example, people associated with the countries on the list would not be on the list.

Moreover, the bill is incompatible with government policies on radicalization that leads to violence. The fact is that existing laws and initiatives already fulfill the stated purpose of this bill. I would like to point out that the government is already taking concrete, effective measures to fight terrorism and radicalization leading to violence in Canada. Canada has a robust set of tools to protect Canadians and registered charities from the risk of terrorism and its deplorable acts. One of those tools is the terrorist listing regime in the Criminal Code.

As soon as an entity is added to that list, banks and financial institutions can freeze its assets. In fact, being added to the list can also lead to the criminalization of all support activities to help stop potential sympathizers in Canada from providing any financial assistance to terrorist groups. The Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act resulted in the creation of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, or FINTRAC, which oversees the financial system and gathers information to support investigations into terrorist financing.

FINTRAC is also supposed to hand over to the Canada Revenue Agency any financial information it has regarding charitable organizations suspected of being linked to terrorist financing. In addition, the State Immunity Act includes a list of foreign countries that support terrorism. The act makes is possible for victims of terrorism to seek justice from the countries on the list.

Bill C-371 states that anti-terrorism efforts should include charities. Once again, we already have effective mechanisms to do so. The Canada Revenue Agency already monitors registered charities to ensure that they remain focused on their stated charitable goals. Under the current rules, any charity using its resources to support terrorist activities, radicalization to violence, or incitement to hatred would be denied registered charity status or could have this status revoked.

The government also has measures in place to denounce and combat religious persecution, torture, and other human rights violations.

For example, some provisions of the new Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act make it possible to freeze the assets of those responsible for serious human rights violations.

There are apparently several measures already in place that can achieve the objectives of Bill C-371 without making legitimate charitable organizations liable to penalties. Consequently, despite the bill's good intentions, I cannot support it because of the overlaps and shortcomings in the bill.

Of course we all want to fight terrorism and extremism. That is why, for example, the government established the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence to fight the radicalization of young Canadians. In budget 2016, the government allocated funding of $35 million over five years for the work of the Canadian centre. The centre provides national leadership to support local efforts. It makes all the difference.

Communities across the country receive assistance through effective, innovative programs to combat radicalization leading to violence. This assistance often brings together law enforcement authorities, communities, and service providers. Furthermore, our security and intelligence agencies also have access to a series of prevention measures to help them monitor and intercept threats, maintain a no-fly list, refuse or revoke a passport, maintain public order, and lay criminal charges if there is sufficient evidence.

The government also introduced Bill C-59, which will increase accountability and effectiveness in Canada's national security framework. This bill was introduced in response to Canada's largest-ever national security consultation.

I know that all hon. members are united in the resolve to combat extremism, prevent terrorist violence, and bring perpetrators of such acts to justice. Unfortunately, Bill C-371 will not be an effective tool to help us achieve this common goal. I am sorry that I cannot support it, but I look forward to working with the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka and all hon. members to ensure that Canadians are as safe as possible and can live free from all forms of extremism and violence.

Prevention of Radicalization through Foreign Funding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:20 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. However, there is something that I need to tell him. Right now, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security is studying Bill C-59. As part of that study, we noticed that there is a gap in Bill C-59, and that could be filled by Bill C-371, which was introduced by my colleague from Parry Sound—Muskoka. It would be nice if my colleague were listening to me, but that is fine.

Today, I am pleased to rise in the House to support my colleague's bill, Bill C-371. I think it is an essential tool for combatting terrorism in Canada. As proposed, the bill would give the government the ability to establish, based on the recommendations of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, a list of foreign states, individuals, and entities that suppress religious freedom, sentence individuals to punishment based on their religious beliefs, and engage in or support activities that promote radicalization.

This bill deals with what is known as the covert means by which money is paid to Canadian organizations and institutions that support radicalization. It would make it possible to prevent an individual, entity, or foreign state that supports, promotes, or is associated with radicalization from funding an institution through donations or gifts.

This bill is very important because the Liberals prove to us almost every day that they do not fully understand the very clear danger we are facing.

For example, all Canadians in every region of the country heard the Prime Minister say that the Islamic State jihadis can have an extraordinarily powerful voice in Canada.

It is incredible that a prime minister would make such a comment. Not only is it absurd, but it is completely irresponsible.

Many of these people have returned to Canada with terrorist training, which is based on hatred for everything that is contrary to their views. These terrorists have committed unthinkable acts of violence. They have shot homosexuals, raped women and young girls, and killed Christians, Jews, and members of other faiths.

Today, the Prime Minister not only believes that these animals can be integrated into our society, but that they can be a powerful voice. Does the Prime Minister mean that they are a powerful voice for radicalization? Does he perhaps mean that they are a powerful voice for turning back the clock on women's rights? Is the Prime Minister aware of the real danger that these people represent? Does the Prime Minister keep an eye on the news about terrorist attacks in other countries? I am not so sure.

Another example is that the Prime Minister reached a settlement agreement with a terrorist, but he is dragging our veterans, those who fought to protect Canadians, through the courts. Clearly, the Prime Minister lacks judgment. He does not have his priorities straight.

Bill C-371 is important because we know that there have been relatively few charges, prosecutions, or convictions of people who have taken part in or provided material support to the jihadi movement.

We are concerned about the failure to prosecute when it comes to terrorist financing.

We learned that between 2009 and 2014, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada identified 683 cases of terrorist financing, and that no legal action was taken under the relevant sections of the Criminal Code. The terrorist threat to the security of Canada has increased significantly.

In recent decades, a number of Canadians have been convicted in court for planning multi-target, mass-casualty strikes in this country. Threats have been forthcoming from Canadians who have joined terrorists hostile to Canada and its allies. We know that more than 80 Canadians have returned to Canada after participating with Islamist fundamentalist groups. Many of these people return with terrorist training, combat experience and may therefore pose a security risk to Canada. There have been relatively few charges, prosecutions, or convictions for participating in or providing material support to the jihadist movement.

Similarly, with the exception of the 2010 conviction of Prapaharan Thambithurai, who was charged with raising money for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, there have been no charges in the area of supporting listed terrorist entities like the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Hamas, Hezbollah, or the Islamic Relief Fund for the Needy and Afflicted.

Calgary imam Syed Soharwardy, as well as other witnesses, advised the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence that extremist jihadist ideology is being spread at schools and universities in Canada, often under the guise of academic freedom and away from the eyes of CSIS.

The person who told us that is an imam. Specifically, he said this:

The money comes in different ways, in secret ways. Money comes through institutions. There are two organizations in Canada. Basically they are U.S. organizations that are operating in Canada. One is called AlMaghrib Institute, the other is called AlKauthar Institute. Both work in universities, not in mosques. Both give lectures. Both organize seminars. They are the ones who brainwash these young kids in lectures.

That is what the Calgary imam told the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. I did not make that up. When Shahina Siddiqui of the Islamic Social Services Association appeared before the same committee in 2015, she said this:

I can tell you that my own organization was offered $3 million. We refused, even though I had not a penny in my account at that time, when I started the organization, because this is a Canadian organization, and we don't need funding from anywhere else.

The same thing with our mosques in Manitoba. We were offered money from Libya when we made our first mosque. We refused it.

Did some mosques accept money from overseas because it was legal to do so? If we want to curtail that practice, we have to make it illegal, not just for Muslims but for all groups. One person said no. M. Siddiqui from Islamic Social Services said that he refused money. He was offered $3 million from Libya. He knew it was irregular. There was nothing stopping him from accepting that money. That is what is meant by secret ways. That money could have come in through the back door and, if these people were not honest, they could have had that money. There is no way to control that.

Richard Fadden, former director of CSIS and national security advisor to former prime minister Harper and to the current Prime Minister during the first few months of his mandate, confirmed that there are concerns about foreign financing of Canadian religious and quasi religious institutions. The danger is real. This bill would serve as another tool to counter those who hate our society. As I said earlier, Bill C-59 is a massive, 140-page document that includes a lot of things. However, ever since the committee started hearing from witnesses, we have seen that this bill is flawed. I mentioned to my colleagues that Bill C-371 would address the gaps in Bill C-59. Despite the government's claims, I think that passing this bill would be very appropriate.

Prevention of Radicalization through Foreign Funding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:25 p.m.


Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-371, the prevention of radicalization through foreign funding act, introduced by my colleague from Parry Sound—Muskoka.

Organized criminal and terrorist networks are constantly evolving to find new ways to finance their crimes. New opportunities for criminal networks to exploit things like funding chains and programs offered through non-governmental organizations are constantly surfacing and it is our job as legislators not only to recognize this pattern but to shut them down. Today I would like to talk about some of the gaps in our current law and what it means for Canadians and why I think this bill is a step in the right direction.

There are numerous scenarios that currently allow terrorist organizations to infiltrate Canadian networks. These are often wealthy foreign influencers who funnel funds from their propaganda machines into Canadian charities and institutions. Imam Syed Soharwardy told the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence that this problem has been largely ignored, stating:

The money comes in different ways, in secret ways. Money comes through institutions. There are two organizations in Canada. Basically they are U.S. organizations that are operating in Canada. One is called AlMaghrib Institute, the other is called AlKauthar Institute. Both work in universities, not in mosques. Both give lectures. Both organize seminars. They are the ones who brainwash these young kids in lectures.

These are not amateur actors. They know where to find impressionable kids and how to pull them in using complex programs for recruitment through Canadian institutions like those based in education and faith. Richard Fadden, national security adviser to our ex-PM, and a former director of CSIS, explained that a major difficulty for managing this crisis in oversight is that money is coming from individuals and NGOs and not just foreign governments, which makes it more difficult to track. We know that between 2009 and 2014, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada identified 683 terrorist financing incidences, and yet we have not prosecuted any of these. Listed entities noted as operating are the Tamil Tigers, Hamas, and Hezbollah. A colleague on the Liberal side stated that there is no real need for improvement right now. However, there has not been a single charge in the 683 incidences of money coming in to terrorist organizations. It is clear the government does not take this issue seriously.

What happens when the funding network goes unchallenged or unchecked, and what does it mean for radicalization? Groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, and Daesh have developed complex campaigns that seek out gullible audiences around the world, and any funding that these organizations get, whether through criminal activity or collusion with foreign governments, goes toward growing their network, enhancing their capabilities, and spreading their message to indoctrinate people beyond their borders.

Let us be clear here. Canada has been directly threatened by terrorist groups. Calls to action from these groups for domestic fighters have been made. These groups have a vested interest in using the funds they make and collect abroad for international recruitment because their existence goes as far as their message will carry it. Daesh alone has the participation of over 100 Canadians so far that we know of, and with the advancement of digital communication and the increasing use of the Internet, that number will continue to grow. A National Post story cited in the Senate committee report stated that it takes about 30 seconds to create a Twitter account and connect to somebody in Syria and then Facebook's algorithm suggests similar sites and friends with the same interests. These connections are used to establish contacts, create shell organizations, and nurture relationships with newly radicalized groups. Because this funding is being funnelled into existing local institutions, they can recruit en masse, making it a much more lucrative investment for time and resources.

This bill seeks to apply a framework that stops this from happening by setting out a schedule of foreign states and, by extension, for individuals and entities that suppress religious freedom, impose punishments for religious beliefs, or have engaged in or facilitated activities that promote radicalization. As an added protection, there is a built-in review and appeal process that ensures accountability and transparency throughout the process of assessment. This spurs a further need with regard to foreign funding and especially why we are not doing more to enhance transparency and accountability in funding that Canada looks after and puts toward incoming and outgoing funds from Canada.

The most glaring example right now was the Liberals' decision to return funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, an organization that is known to be infiltrated and used by Hamas. UNRWA, while operating as a non-governmental organization, has provided facilities directly to terrorist organizations that commit crimes against children, women, and the population as a whole. It even allows Hamas to build tunnels underneath schools for launching rockets at Israel. I have to ask why this is right. Why are Canadian taxpayers funding an organization that is contributing to violence against innocent people?

Let us talk about the main source of illicit funding coming into Canada and across the world: Saudi Arabia.

The following is from a Robert Fife article on the Saudis. It reports on a task force report on terrorist financing by the Council on Foreign Relations, which included former White House counterterrorist czar Richard Clarke and David Cohen, the CIA's former director of operations.

...Saudi Arabia is funding radical Islamic extremism in...Canada, where the Saudis have contributed millions of dollars to a mysterious...centre in Toronto....

“Saudi Arabia funds the global propagation of Wahabism, a brand of Islam that, in some instances, supports militancy by encouraging divisiveness and violent acts against Muslims and non-Muslims,” the report said.

“This massive spending is helping to create the next generation of terrorists and therefore constitutes a paramount strategic threat to the United States” [and other neighbouring countries].

Saudi Arabia has spent hundreds of millions of dollars...around the world, including in Canada.

The article goes on to cite an official Saudi report that stated that the Saudis have donated millions in Canada, including for the Salaheddin centre, which runs “a mosque and private elementary school where the Khadr family and other...radicals linked to [Al Qaeda] belong, and where the organization's website preaches against Jews and Christians.”

Here is a delightful statement from that website, which is funded with help from the Saudis:

Why do we hate the Jews? We hate them for the sake of our Lord, we hate them for the sake of Allaah because they slandered Allaah and they killed and slandered His Prophets.

Here we have Saudi funding coming into Canada promoting hate.

I want to chat more about the Saudis for a moment. Saudi attacks in Yemen have led to over 4,000 civilian casualties, hitting homes, hospitals, and schools as well as civilian factories, warehouses, and other protected sites. Its forces have admitted using banned cluster munitions.

Saudi law allows flogging, stoning, executions, and brutal jail time for supporting demonstrations or for merely harming the reputation of the kingdom. Women must obtain permission from a male guardian to marry, divorce, travel, get a job, or have elective surgery or any other health care treatment.

Here we have Saudi groups poisoning minds in Canada and around the world, and the response from the Liberal government is to happily bring in blood oil on the east coast of Canada at the same time it shuns Alberta oil by killing off energy east.

More than 122,000 oil workers have been without jobs in Alberta since the price of oil collapsed, and Alberta's unemployment rate sits at a 22-year high, yet here we are knocking on Saudi Arabia's door for access to a resource we have plenty of at home.

Why are we pouring funds into countries that act in direct violation of rights we strive to uphold and that commit violence and discriminatory practices against women, minority groups, the LGBT community, and all demographic groups the Liberal government claims to support? I suppose saying that we are promoting human rights is easier than actually promoting them, yet here we are.

We need to preserve the integrity of our local institutions, such as our churches, our mosques, and our schools, and ensure that they and the people who rely on them are protected. We need to cut off this funding at the head. We know it is happening. We know who is doing it. We are not doing anything to stop it.

The bill is an essential way for governments to ensure that radical groups are not able to use local and domestic institutions as a means of growing their networks and committing atrocities around the world.

We need to ensure accountability and fiscal transparency in the foreign funding coming into Canadian schools and places of worship.

I thank my hon. colleague for bringing this private member's bill forward, and I will proudly support it.

Prevention of Radicalization through Foreign Funding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Prevention of Radicalization through Foreign Funding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Some hon. members



Prevention of Radicalization through Foreign Funding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Prevention of Radicalization through Foreign Funding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Some hon. members


Prevention of Radicalization through Foreign Funding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Prevention of Radicalization through Foreign Funding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Some hon. members


Prevention of Radicalization through Foreign Funding ActPrivate Members' Business

1:35 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, February 14, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

It being 1:34 p.m., the House stands adjourned until next Monday, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 1:40 p.m.)