House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was section.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Scarborough Southwest (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 48% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Interparliamentary Delegations May 30th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of Canadian delegation of the Canada-China Legislative Association respecting its visit to Shanghai, Chengdu and Beijing, China from March 12 to March 16, 2007.

Committees of the House May 2nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in relation to the statutory review of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

In the interest of transparency something has been brought to my attention in the last hour or so. There are a couple of dissenting opinions, and the last sentence of one of the dissenting opinions reads “Minister Day's letter is attached as an annex to this dissenting opinion”.

Unfortunately, when the dissenting opinion was provided to the clerk, the letter was not attached and therefore it does not form part of this report. We will try to deal with that when we publish the report that is going to be disseminated to the public. I want to make sure that is on the record.

Anti-terrorism Act February 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, who was a member of the original committee in December 2004, has been on the committee throughout that time. In my opinion, he has contributed invaluable work, not only for the positive suggestions that he has made but for asking questions just as he did. If we do not have questions like that, then we do not advance the debate, dig deeper or burrow down and find out the answers.

Contrary to what he says, one of the examples that was given of the potential use of investigative hearings was in the context of the Air-India debate. I am not talking about what has transpired in the last couple of weeks. I am talking about long ago when the RCMP was still investigating. We were told that it was contemplated but that for a variety of reasons it was decided it would not be used. That would be a example of the kind of technique that would have been put in place at that time and a concrete example of what it could have been used for.

However, the answer we have been given is along the lines of what my colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood was talking about, and that is to try to prevent something from occurring as opposed to doing something about something that has occurred. The whole idea is to have a range of tools that the police can use in a situation where there are reasonable grounds to believe that something has happened but not enough perhaps to get a warrant or enough to pull someone off the street.

One of the arguments that was advanced by the previous Liberal minister of public safety was that just because it has not been used, who is to say that it has not been effective. Perhaps simply because it is on the books it has been effective.

Anti-terrorism Act February 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Mount Royal.

In the brief 10 minutes that I have to speak on this very important topic, I want to say what my interest in the subject matter is.

In December 2004 I was appointed as one of three representatives of the Liberal Party to review the Anti-terrorism Act. We worked long and hard from December 2004 until approximately October 2005. When we were about to begin drafting our report, it became obvious that an election was looming and we were unable to complete that report.

In the new Parliament, the subcommittee was reconstituted under the aegis of the public safety and national security committee. I was again appointed by my party as one of the Liberal representatives on the subcommittee, the other one being the hon. member for Etobicoke North. We worked from the time the subcommittee was constituted literally until last Tuesday to complete our final report which was then sent to the public safety and national security committee for its full review. That committee will review it and report no later than March 27. A tremendous amount of work has gone on in that time.

I want to point out to people who might be watching what we are debating today. We are debating a statutory order and it is very specific. It is very specific because it is proscribed by the language of section 83.32 of the Criminal Code. There is no wiggle room. We either extend these sections or we do not. That is what the section says and that is what the statutory order has to follow. Unfortunately, that is a major problem.

Both Houses of Parliament have been studying this legislation and have heard from a tremendous number of witnesses as to what is or is not good or bad about it and what should or should not be tweaked. Unfortunately, the Senate only reported last Thursday and as I said, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security will not even be able to report until more or less the end of this month, long past the time these sections will sunset unless they are extended.

These sections talk of two things. The first is investigative hearings. Under this provision, a peace officer, with the prior consent of the attorney general, can apply to a superior court or a provincial court judge for an order for the gathering of information. If it is granted, the order compels a person to attend a hearing before a judge, answer questions, and bring along anything in his or her possession.

The second deals with recognizance with conditions which is otherwise known as preventive arrest. With the prior consent of the attorney general, a peace officer, believing that a terrorist act will be carried out and suspecting that the imposition of a recognizance with conditions or the arrest of a person is required to prevent it, may lay an information before a provincial court judge. That judge may order that person to appear before him or her. A peace officer may arrest, without warrant, the person who is the object of the information, if such apprehension is necessary to prevent the commission of a terrorist activity.

This is what we are talking about. Both of these provisions are known to Canadian law. There are equivalents to investigative hearings which are investigatory and not intended to determine criminal liability within the context of the law related to public inquiries, competition, income tax, and mutual legal assistance in criminal law matters.

As well, there are provisions similar to recognizance with conditions that do not necessarily adversely affect rights and freedoms within the criminal law related to peace bonds issued to deal with anticipated violent offences, sexual offences, and criminal organization offences.

Both legislative measures are consistent with and grow out of provisions well known to Canadian law. Both provisions have sufficient protections to ensure that rights and freedoms are protected.

In relation to both investigative hearings and recognizance with conditions, there has to be prior consent of the attorney general. Judicial authorization is required, and a judge presides over the proceedings themselves among other protections set out in the Criminal Code.

The mere fact that a legislative measure has not been used, and these have not been used, does not mean that it is no longer required.

The committee which reported to this House believes they should be retained within the arsenal of tools that should continue to be available to counter terrorist activities. It also believes, however, that legislative amendments are required to this part of the code to restrict and clarify some elements of this part of the anti-terrorist law adopted by Parliament. The committee advised Parliament of six or seven specific amendments that it suggests.

This is Liberal legislation. I voted for it. On March 22, 2005, Anne McLellan, the then minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, appeared before our subcommittee. On March 23, 2005 the then minister of justice appeared before our subcommittee. In both cases they indicated that there was nothing wrong with these provisions and they urged the committee to recommend that they be continued.

In the new Parliament on November 16, 2005, the then minister of justice and the then minister of public safety Anne McLellan, appeared and advised us again that we should extend these provisions. On June 21, 2006 the minister of justice and the minister of public safety of the current Conservative government appeared and said the same thing. In fact, one would have thought they were reading the same speech prepared by the same bureaucrats notwithstanding that they were different governments.

This is the evidence that we heard. Given that, we have four arguments, as I see it, not to extend. Some would argue that these provisions are contrary to the charter. I simply dismiss that argument. It is simply not a valid argument. The provisions have been found to be constitutional. In fact that is what the ministers of justice told us. We have been told that they are not used. If these are sunsetted, then they are gone.

My recollection of history is that the sunsetting clauses were put in because there was great fear that these sections might be abused. Not only have they not been abused, they have not even been used, but that does not mean that they might not be used in the future. As one of my colleagues said in caucus last week, just because he has not had an accident and deployed his airbags does not mean that he is going to take the airbags out of his car. I could not agree with him more.

Some would say that the provisions are not needed any more. I would ask on what basis does someone make that statement? All of the people who have access to top secret information in this country, law enforcement officers, the ministers of the Crown of both the Liberal and Conservative governments, top bureaucrats dealing with CSIS and CSE and all of those organizations, urged us not to sunset these clauses. They are the people with the knowledge that we do not have. They are the people who have top secret clearance and get to see things that we do not.

I ask those who say that these provisions are no longer needed, what is the evidence upon which they base that argument, especially in the face of our committee specifically hearing time and again from people with the highest clearance possible that in order to protect this country, these clauses should not be allowed to sunset.

I do not say they are perfect and that is why our committee issued an interim report urging the government to consider certain amendments. These sections are going to sunset. If they sunset, they cannot be fixed. Yes, we can bring back legislation later on; to try to bring them back in a fixed form is entirely possible, but it is very difficult for me to comprehend why we would be told by those who have information to which we can only possibly guess that these sections should not sunsetted. It is difficult for me to understand why we would allow them to sunset.

It is a very difficult area. Someone else in my caucus said that this is an issue where reasonable people can reasonably disagree on an issue. I agree with that, but I have to look at the people who have the knowledge. They are the people who have top secret information and they have told us that these sections are required to protect our country.

What else can I say in contributing to the debate other than those observations.

Anti-terrorism Act February 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I have a comment and then a question for my hon. colleague.

My comment pertains to something my hon. colleague mentioned. In looking at the act with respect to recognizance with conditions, section 83.3, otherwise known as preventative arrest, that section deals with “reasonable grounds” to believe “that a terrorist activity will be carried out” or “to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity”. So indeed, that is in fact forward looking.

On the other hand, for investigative hearings the act states, “A judge to whom an application is made under subsection (2) may make an order for the gathering of information” if he or she believes “there are reasonable grounds to believe that...a terrorism offence has been committed”. That is the past. Then it goes on to also talk about future terrorist offences.

It is clearly within the purview of the investigative hearing that it can be used for the prospective, for the future, and this is one of the reasons that the subcommittee in its report, which it presented to the main committee and which the main committee adopted, recommended that the investigative hearing provision be amended so that it may deal only with the future. Because clearly it can deal with the past, and the committees were of the view that once an offence has been committed there are sufficient investigative tools in the arsenal of the police that they do not need investigative hearings.

My question for the hon. member pertains to his historical recollection. The hon. member and I are in neighbouring ridings. I recall very specifically his passionate concern about these two sections. In fact, I remember us having public hearings in Scarborough with affected communities, where we talked about these very issues and about the perception that certain communities were being targeted. In his speech, the hon. member said there was a lot of worry that these sections might be used in such a way as to abuse citizens' rights. I want to know if that is in fact the main reason he recalls that--

Anti-terrorism Act February 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I am a member of the subcommittee that has been considering this legislation for over two years. I listened very carefully to my hon. friend's chronology. I want to say that for the most part of his chronology I agree with it completely. I think he has set it out correctly. I think he has set out the conundrum that we have found ourselves in, where the clock has continued to run, notwithstanding the fact that there have been intervening events, such as a general election, which prevented the subcommittee from in fact concluding its work. I wonder if the hon. member would agree with a couple of factual corrections.

In more than one occasion in his speech he mentioned that we have not yet heard from the Senate. In fact, the Senate issued its final report last week, I am sure he would agree.

I am also sure the member knows that the subcommittee concluded its work on the main portion of the Anti-terrorism Act last week and referred its report to the main committee. The House gave an extension of time on Friday to the main committee requiring it to deliver its final verdict on the Anti-terrorism Act by March 27. The reason for that is, as the hon. member said, time just keeps on going and yet there is not enough time for us to deal with this given the nature of the time limits within the legislation.

Would the hon. member agree that his recitation of the chronology would be more accurate if he agreed with what I just said?

Anti-terrorism Act February 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, my friend and I are in the same party and he was telling us that when the Anti-terrorism Act was brought before the House by the previous Liberal government he voted against it. I voted for it. We have a divergence of views.

However, we can have a divergence of views on an issue like this. That is what the House is all about. I think it is very important that we have a divergence of views on the basis of fact and not on the basis of opinion or innuendo.

I am wondering if the hon. member would reconsider his statement that the Supreme Court struck down security certificates as being inaccurate. It is my understanding and my reading of the decision that the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the method whereby security certificates are judged to be reasonable or unreasonable, and gave the government one year to come up with a more compliant methodology to ensure that the certificate is deemed reasonable or unreasonable with the accused having proper access to the appropriate evidence against them so that they can answer that evidence. I wonder if the hon. member would reconsider his words.

Anti-terrorism Act February 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed listening to the hon. member's presentation. He and I had the opportunity to be members of the subcommittee appointed by the public safety committee to examine the Anti-terrorism Act. Indeed as he mentioned in his remarks, an interim report of that subcommittee was presented to the main committee, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. The main committee adopted that subcommittee report and reported it to this House in October.

I note since I was one of the authors of the report along with the hon. member, that the subcommittee made a number of recommendations to, in its view, improve the operation of the two sections in question. I wonder if he would like to comment on them.

Committees of the House December 13th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

The committee examined the qualifications and competence of the nominee and agreed that the nomination of Robert Marleau as Information Commissioner of Canada be concurred in. It was unanimous.

Interparliamentary Delegations December 13th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-China Legislative Association respecting its participation in the ninth bilateral consultations held in Beijing, Guangzhou, Macau and Hong Kong, from October 7 to 15, 2006.

I encourage the government to review this report of one of our major and important trading partners so that we have an excellent relationship with the People's Republic of China.