Madam Speaker, I will continue my speech on this very serious matter.
This week the Liberals moved a motion declaring that they would accept just two of the four amendments proposed by the Senate and that they were rejecting the important amendment on terrorism. The two amendments they retained were administrative ones.
Also, we did not support this bill because it makes it harder for law enforcement and security agencies to prevent attacks on Canadian soil, since they no longer have any threat disruption powers. Furthermore, the bill creates information silos among our agencies, which creates problems. I have said this before and I will say it again: information sharing is fundamental.
The Senate's first amendment is to Part 2 of the bill, which deals with the intelligence commissioner. The amendment adds a new clause under the “Foreign Intelligence Authorization“ heading. This new clause would allow the intelligence commissioner to refer a matter back to the minister with a description of the condition that would have to be added to the authorization in order to make the conclusions reasonable. This amendment would affect the Communications Security Establishment in particular and was recommended by the commissioner.
We support this amendment because it improves the bill by increasing communication and feedback between the information commissioner and the minister, thus reducing administrative formalities. We also proposed this amendment at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. Unfortunately, the government rejected it.
The second amendment pertains to counselling the commission of a terrorism offence—I keep bringing it up and we will talk about it again and again—under the “Criminal Code” heading. Those few words make a world of difference in these 260 pages. This amendment broadens the scope of the wording slightly, given that some of our witnesses felt that the term “counselling” was too narrow. We support that amendment because it significantly improves the wording, ensuring greater certainty regarding how counselling another person to commit a terrorism offence should be interpreted. For an offence to have been committed, there is no requirement that:
(c) the accused knows the identity of the person whom the accused counsels to carry out the terrorist activity; or
(d) the person whom the accused counsels to carry out the terrorist activity knows that it is a terrorist activity.
This amendment addresses concerns specific to online terrorist propaganda. We do not understand why the government rejected this amendment proposed by the Senate, which is dominated by independent Liberals.
Despite two positive amendments, this legislation is still flawed. Aside from our unconditional support of part 6, we cannot support Bill C-59.
I will close by mentioning a few examples of serious flaws.
Part 4 amends threat reduction powers by limiting guaranteed powers to seven types of actions, one of which raises the question of whether non-invasive actions require a warrant. That action is described as interfering with the movement of any person. That means a CSIS agent on the ground would need a warrant to give false information to someone who could help the agent meet conspirators. It would also prevent a CSIS agent from warning the parents of a child who is being radicalized unless the agent has a warrant. These changes place an additional administrative burden on our agencies, which, without additional funding, will have to take agents out of the field so they can take care of paperwork.
Information silos are another problem. Part 5 was created in response to privacy protection groups that were unhappy with the fact that government institutions may share information, of their own accord or at the request of another institution, about activities that pose a threat to Canada's security. This creates a silo effect, which national security experts decried.
When ordinary Canadians look at the government, it seems complicated to them. There are many different public servants and many different departments. They often say that people do not talk to each other. Part 5 further complicates the exchange of information that is crucial to protecting national security. People have to be able to communicate. Information silos hinder communication. Leading national security advisors expressed concerns, but the government did not want to change its approach.
The third important element is threat disruption. Part 7 raises the threshold for recognizance orders and peace bonds, making it more difficult for law enforcement to monitor problematic individuals and disrupt threats before they occur.
This clause replaces the following words from the Criminal Code, “suspects on reasonable grounds that the imposition of a recognizance with conditions on a person, or the arrest of a person, is likely to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity” with, “suspects on reasonable grounds that the imposition of a recognizance with conditions on a person, or the arrest of a person, is necessary to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity”.
It all comes down to two words: “likely” is replaced by “necessary”.
Instead of having serious concerns or information about a likely terrorist activity, we now have to be sure that the arrest is necessary. This complicates things. If there is any doubt, we have to back off. Terrorist activities tend to develop quite quickly. People who plot attacks might take months to think about and plan them, but others might quickly decide that they feel like doing something on Sunday, for example. When we get information quickly we have to be able to react quickly. Bill C-59 encumbers the process.
The powers provided for in Conservative Bill C-51 were aligned with those of our allies, including Norway and Finland. We modelled our bill on other democracies that believe freedom and security go hand in hand.
In summary, Bill C-59 is a heavy bureaucratic tool that will not ensure public safety, but will undo what the Conservative government put in place to safeguard the security of Canadians.
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:
“the order for the consideration of the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters, be discharged and the Bill withdrawn”