Mr. Speaker, I share the sober concerns of my colleagues in the House who understand the grave implications of this critical moment in Canadian history. it is a moment of crisis for Canadian democracy. I believe in democracy. I will defend rights and have spent my entire life doing so. However, I want to ensure that our rights are defended by the rule of law, not by rhetoric or politics, and certainly not by decree of insurrectionist mob rule.
Having been present at the opening proceedings of this debate, I have listened intently to all parties. When I rose in the House for my member's statement, I noted the need for us to begin the important work of restoring faith in our institutions, and the need for greater transparency and accountability given what is before us in this debate on the declaration of the Emergencies Act and perhaps, more importantly, what is yet to come. What has been made abundantly clear to all Canadians is how fragile our democracy is and the work that will be required to fully restore it, regardless of the occupation's final outcome this week.
I should state that I still hope there will be continued non-violent de-escalations in the situation. I wish for no further escalations of violence. It may be too late, but those who have taken these streets should pack up and leave so we may return to the public health crisis at hand and continue to work in responding to the public health needs of Canadians suffering through COVID.
On top of that suffering, I want to acknowledge the disproportionate impact that this occupation has had on local residents and workers, including Parliament Hill staff and federal employees, who have been subjected to complete lawlessness during this 24-7 disruption of their lives. For three weeks, our nation and its capital have been seized by the threat of an ongoing and volatile occupation while the world looks on. I have heard directly from residents in Hamilton Centre a feeling of frustration and disappointment in all levels of government and a sense of deep failure by local police services to adequately maintain public safety and handle these illegal acts of insurrection that threaten our democracy and the rights of all Canadians across the country.
Over the past three weeks, we have watched assaults, attempted arson, widespread harassment at homes, workplaces and schools, the promotion of hate, and other concerning behaviours, such as convoy members giving themselves false powers to detain people. It concerns me that rather than denounce these actions and find ways to help Canadians who do not feel safe in their homes, some in the House have found it politically useful to encourage and embolden these actions, which run counter to our democracy. On February 14, 2022, the RCMP arrested 11 people, who have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder, after finding the following in three trailers: 14 firearms, sets of body armour, a machete and a large quantity of ammunition, including high-capacity magazines.
I should share my concern that I feel the government, in specifying the emergency, placed an overemphasis on the economic disruptions posed by the blockades, including the adverse effects on businesses and supply chains, without adequately referencing the threat of extremist white supremacy and the reported potential for violence. This is despite reports from the intelligence assessments prepared by Canada's Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre that warned in late January that it was likely extremists were involved and said the scale of the protest could yet pose a trigger point and opportunity for potential lone actors to conduct a terrorist attack. I had to read about the seriousness of national security via The Guardian, while ITAC reported that supporters of the convoy had advocated civil war. They have called for violence against the Prime Minister and said that the protests should be used as Canada's January 6, in reference to the storming of the U.S. Capitol. If the government knew, as reported, that the intelligence agencies had been briefing the Canadian government as far back as late December on the possible threat posed by the convoy, why was this clear and present threat not better articulated in the proclamation?
It is my assertion that the overemphasis on blockades, the economy and the threat to capital is a failure of the government's proclamation in the public order emergency and continues to undermine the public's ability to fully grasp what is at stake here. It also speaks to how differently communities have experienced the impact of these threats. For those who do not feel an existential threat of white supremacy, the top priority is and remains the economy and the flow of capital. For those of us who do recognize and experience the real threat of violence posed by white supremacist extremists, this is about the threat of the stated intentions of the occupiers to overthrow our elected government and replace it with an ethnonationalist junta.
I am from a city where if someone tells me they want to drop a bullet in my head, I am compelled to take them seriously, so I appreciate the solemn reflections earlier today from the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer. However, I want to reiterate that it will be critical over the course of this debate for the government to continue to clearly expand upon what I have outlined and what may go beyond what is publicly made available. For example, I call on the government to come clean with Canadians and clearly state the threats to security that many of us see from section 2 of the CSIS Act, which exempts protests in dissent, but with a special emphasis on subsection (d), which outlines:
activities directed toward undermining by covert unlawful acts, or directed toward or intended ultimately to lead to the destruction or overthrow by violence of, the constitutionally established system of government in Canada
Unpacking these important distinctions will be crucial for the public's ability to determine the proportionality of using part II of the act and safeguarding against government overreach, which we have seen time and again against sovereign indigenous land defenders, racial and climate justice activists and workers. The very legitimate concern is that the precedent set here could lower the bar for future use against legitimate protests in dissent.
I will state again that this is no time for talking points, spin or partisan attacks. Canadians deserve honest answers, accurate information and clear reasoning. How is it that we have gotten to this point? This declaration of a public order emergency, and indeed the entire debate, ought to be properly centred on public safety and not merely a defence of critical capital. We have witnessed the juxtaposition of brutal and excessive responses to legitimate protests, as experienced for generations by indigenous peoples of these lands and as ongoing in unceded, unsurrendered Wet'suwet'en territory; the use of Canadian military to surveil the Black Lives Matter protest, as recently as 2022; the vicious response to climate justice activists at Fairy Creek; and the violent crackdown on police services against houseless residents and encampment support activists at Trinity-Bellwoods in Toronto and J.C. Beemer Park right here in my riding of Hamilton Centre. Many of these people, in this very moment, fear that the extended powers of the state's monopoly on violence will only serve to further target their causes.
From the place of this deep concern, I wish to put on the record a question for the government side. Will it clearly state whether the rights afforded by the charter, the supreme law of this land, will remain whole, or if, in its declaration, it is attempting to surreptitiously rescue any potential abuses of authority through section 1 of the charter? I believe this is an incredibly important point of law and is necessary to understand the scale and scope of powers granted under the provisions of the proclamation, along with its future potential use.
In my opening remarks, I spoke about the need to restore faith in our public institutions, perhaps none more compromised than the the police, who have time and again been recorded in compromised exchanges with the occupiers, and who have been witnessed, in some instances, actively collaborating. Logistically, they have been aiding and abetting the occupation the entire time.
Canadians cannot maintain faith in our nation's safety and security institutions when faced with this early and ongoing de facto dereliction of duty by local police officers, whose weaponized incompetence and refusal to uphold the law in our nation's capital helped to ultimately bring us to this place. The reports about retired active duty national intelligence and military members, including Joint Task Force 2 members, about the RCMP and about former members of the Prime Minister's security detail further demonstrate the need for a national commission on policing. The last royal commission on policing was in 1962. It is why on Thursday I asked the Minister of Emergency Preparedness if he would commit to establishing a national commission on policing that would review the role of police in this national crisis, as well as the duties generally assigned to the police and their corresponding budgets, and if he would commit to a secretariat or some other office to report on the radicalization and use of public resources and security forces for undemocratic ends.
Today is an extraordinary moment in Canadian history, but there comes a time when democracy is truly tested. The question that remains and the one we will inevitably be forced to answer is this: How, as a nation, can we pull through this crisis, hold those responsible accountable and improve upon or abolish the failed systems and principles that forced us into this crisis in the first place?