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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Bloc MP for Berthier—Montcalm (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 57% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Aeronautics Act December 6th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, since this morning, I have been listening carefully to the debate about this very important bill. When I heard what the Bloc Quebecois member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel had to say, I decided to speak to the bill myself, given its importance.

The House will understand that this is an issue which the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel has followed closely and on which he has done a considerable amount of work. He advises and informs the Bloc Quebecois members on this topic. I listened to him earlier and several things that he said about Bill C-44 caught my attention. I am thinking of such things as all the legislative measures that the government has put in place to fight terrorism, and the atmosphere that has been created as a result.

I simply had to speak because this is an issue that is terribly important to me, since it touches on key concepts, on the criminal code and related legislation. It is important for the legal system of Canada and of Quebec. I therefore decided to rise and speak.

As my colleague said, this is a very important bill, which will influence our justice system for years to come. To give a bit of context, it must be recalled that the government began by introducing Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism bill. This bill gave various powers to ministers, including the solicitor general and the Minister of National Defence, with respect to arrests without warrant, very broad electronic eavesdropping, and so forth. It is a very complex piece of legislation, whose principle we agreed with, and we thought we should support it. That is what we did.

But we had such major reservations that, in the end, we voted against the bill at third reading. At the time, we thought that this was the government's anti-terrorism measure. Surprise, surprise. We see that Bill C-35 contains all sorts of clauses giving increased powers to the RCMP, special powers to peace officers during visits by foreign heads of state. So there is another anti-terrorism measure.

Then came another such measure—this is basically how Bill C-44 came about—it was Bill C-42. Bill C-42 is highly complex. As we said earlier, it is about a hundred pages long. Once again, more powers are given to ministers, the solicitor general and the Minister of Defence. Interim orders may be taken and military zones may be created. This is another legislative measure to combat terrorism.

That is when we said “This is too much, this is going too far”. We cannot even support Bill C-42 in principle, because it disregards the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and gives far too broad powers to one single man or woman. We need to examine this more closely. We need to take time to study the whole issue.

Once again, the government is rushing us. The government is gagging us. It introduced motions to study all of these bills quickly under the pretext that we had to meet international requirements.

According to the government, Bill C-42 responds to important international requirements. Is this not strange? When the government realized that it was not able to rush the bill through before the holidays, is it not strange that it managed to limit to one page what had to be passed by then? It is as though all of the rest of Bill C-42 confirmed what we on this side of the House have been saying all along: the events of September 11 were a pretext for this government to turn upside down a number of statutory approaches.

The events of September 11 have provided the government with the opportunity to grab the powers it has always dreamed of, but lacked the political guts to.

This is so much the case that they have taken what was important on the international scene and put it into a bill to be called Bill C-44, the provisions of which fit on an 8½ x 11 sheet of paper.

These important provisions concern air travel, and I will be returning to that later.

What is of concern to me is the improvisational approach the government, which claims to be a responsible government, is taking at present. It is improvising legislation of great importance, seemingly not knowing where it is headed.

This is so much the case that, at one point, the government imposed a gag order for Bill C-36, and the next day we were forced to adjourn at 4 p.m., or maybe it was 5 or 5.30 p.m., I do not remember, because there was nothing left on the order paper. There was nothing more to look at. That shows lack of vision, not knowing where they are headed.

This improvisation goes back to the very start. For weeks on end, the response from the other side when opposition members, particularly the official opposition, were asking the government whether there ought not to be anti-terrorism legislation in Canada, was that it was not needed, that we already had all the legislation required.

Then overnight, two weeks later, a complex bill was introduced; a week later, another; a week later, yet another. Today, the government came up with a bill that we absolutely must pass before Christmas, one that is going to be divided in two. When it comes down to it, it all boils down to one clause.

I feel the government does not know where it is going. This is dangerous when something as important as rights and freedoms are concerned.

The objective we have always tried to attain, with bills C-36, C-35, C-42 and now C-44, is to strike a balance between national security and individual and group rights. This is hardly complicated.

We have an international reputation, and deservedly so, of being a country where rights are preserved. At least, that reputation used to be deserved. We have case law, lawyers to apply it, judges who bring down good decisions. There are some very important elements on which to focus, to invest. It is a good thing for the country, in a way,to live in a place where that balance can be sought.

In all these bills, including Bill C-44 currently before us, we have always been able to draw on the expertise of lawyers, people who for years have worked with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and with individual and group rights. There are even experts among the Liberal government members, including the member for Mount Royal, who claims to be—and I think it is true—a great defender of individual and group rights.

They all, including the member for Mount Royal, criticized bills C-36, C-42, and C-44 now before us.

I read in the papers that the member for Mount Royal criticized Bill C-42, which is in a way the starting point for Bill C-44. He said it was problematic because it upset the balance between the executive, legislative and judiciary branches. The executive is being given more powers. He says he will oppose it.

I should be rejoicing, but I will not be. Why? Because the member for Mount Royal said the same thing about Bill C-36.

Once the steam roller passed on the other side, he did what the majority of Liberals did, he voted in favour of Bill C-36. But those who appeared before the committee, the civil liberties union of Canada, the great and true defenders of individual and group rights continues to condemn this bill, which will come into effect one day, because it has been passed by the House.

I have no illusions about Bill C-42 and Bill C-44. However, I must say that the government opposite has a knack. It has a way of getting many people to swallow affronts. It has a magic potion that makes people accept things they would otherwise reject. It worked with us at first and second reading of Bill C-36. But it did not work afterward, because we saw them coming from miles away.

However, this way of doing things may work with the public as long as it does not see the real impact of the legislation. This is the case with Bill C-44.

The government tells us “We moved an amendment in committee, with the result that the privacy commissioner agrees with the whole thing. Things are fine. There is no problem”. Still, when I look at Bill C-44 and at the amendment, I am very concerned.

What is Bill C-44? It is an act which, once in force, will allow the government to provide information on air travellers. This information will not only include names, addresses and passport numbers: it will be much more detailed. The government says that, thanks to this amendment, the privacy commissioner agrees with the legislation and there is no problem, since everything will be secure. I will read the amendment.

No information provided under subsection (1) to a competent authority in a foreign state may be collected from that foreign state by a government institution, within the meaning of section 3 of the Privacy Act, unless it is collected for the purpose of protecting national security—

I have no problem with that.

—or public safety.

This is where I have a problem. Public safety is a very broad concept. What is public safety? For example, could a department such as Human Resources Development Canada get from the United States information relating to a monetary issue, for reasons of public safety?

It will be up to the courts to interpret this provision. But in the meantime, how will this provision be applied? Will there be abuse? We must never forget that, to fully understand the meaning of this bill, it must be examined along with all the other acts that will come into effect at the same time. We need all the pieces of the puzzle to fully understand the scope of the government's anti-terrorism legislation.

This is worrisome. I cannot see how this amendment can reassure the privacy commissioner, particularly since the governor in council will define through regulations the information that travellers will have to disclose to the government. The government had promised us that we would have the regulations.

As the member for Argenteuil--Papineau--Mirabel has said on numerous occasions, we asked for copies of these regulations. We asked for the information. The government always stalled.

At some point, we felt that we could not wait any longer, that we wanted something in our hands. It sent us a summary of what might be in the regulations. As everyone knows, a summary is always the minimum. When we see the actual regulations, it is clear that the government added little things that it never told us about. It is clear even from the summary that a lot of information is required, even a passenger's social insurance number, telephone number, itinerary, everywhere he has travelled. This is far-reaching.

Using public safety as an excuse, a minister can ask the United States for this information. In other words, it will be possible for someone to invoke public safety and do indirectly something that is outright illegal in Canada. This is using the events of September 11 for highly political ends.

The more we look at the legislative measures, such as Bill C-36, Bill C-35, Bill C-44 and Bill C-42, the closer we get to a police state. That is what is disturbing. I am not saying that this will happen tomorrow morning, but all the ingredients are there to set the stage for a rather ugly situation, a way of doing things which is foreign to Canada and to Quebec. I do not want to live in such a country.

Everyone knows our party's platform. This shows once again that it is high time that Quebecers cast off this central authority, which shows unbelievable arrogance in passing legislation as important as this.

The principle of the bill is understandable, as is the fact that we must have legislation to comply with certain international obligations and with American legislation. The Americans have the right to pass the laws they wish when it comes to their country's security. If they want to allow our carriers to land in their country, I understand that we do not have a big say.

This is why we will support Bill C-44. However, this is another example of the way the government really thinks. It uses an obligation to give itself even greater powers and to do indirectly what it cannot do directly. This flagrant lack of political courage needs to be stressed. But we should stress even more the ad hoc attitude this government has shown throughout the whole process by introducing piecemeal legislation to deal with terrorism.

The opposition would probably have had cooperated fully with the government if it had proceeded through a single bill. However, to do so you must know what you want to do. This may be where the problem lies: the government does not know where it is going, which explains why it deals with such an important issue in a piecemeal way. This is very concerning, because this approach will taint the legislation as a whole and the Canadian way of doing things.

I conclude by saying that we will support Bill C-44 reluctantly, considering that its object is to meet certain obligations. But the government should get its act together and deal with such an important issue much more seriously.

Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act November 29th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I was not planning on speaking to Bill C-35 this morning, because the hon. member for Mercier, the Bloc critic, has worked so well on this issue that the Bloc's position has been very clear.

Given that the government has once again, through means at its disposal, prevented the opposition from doing its job on issues as important as this one, I feel compelled to rise to both speak to this bill and denounce it at the same time.

I do not completely agree, in fact, I would say that I completely disagree, with the government members who say that there is no link between bills C-35, C-36 and C-42. I think that we need to look at the big picture. It is very relevant to discuss this. It is so relevant to discuss this that the government has gagged debated on Bill C-36 in order to rush it through, so as to prevent us from having all of the legislative pieces in hand to discuss them as a whole.

There is one complaint that the Bloc Quebecois wants to make to the government regarding the September 11 events. Yes, September 11 is an extremely sad and tragic date. We all know the clichés such as “Nothing will ever be the same after September 11”. If the government had any political courage, it would have presented to us all the bills, its global vision, all at once, so that we could see how it plans to strengthen security—assuming it needs to be strengthened—and, as it says, fight terrorism.

But instead, the government is using a piecemeal approach. It resorted to closure with Bill C-36. As for Bill C-42, we learned yesterday that, because of a lack of political guts, the government has decided to split this legislation in two. As regards the very controversial part, it says “We will shove it down their throat later, when we get back from the Christmas break. Since all the other parts of the controversial bills will already have been adopted, there will only be this small part left and we will deal with it later”.

Today, in relation to Bill C-35, we heard another falsehood from members opposite. Bill C-35—unless I do not know how to read—was introduced on October 1, 2001. That was after September 11, 2001. Therefore, it reflects what the government intended to do following the September 11 events. Whether the bill was previously debated in committee or wherever, the fact remains that we have been here since November 2000 and the government had ample time to introduce this legislation, had it wanted to.

But probably because of a lack of political will, it waited for the events of September 11, and now it is in a great big hurry to see all its wildest dreams realized. It is passing bills. It is giving itself all sorts of powers to intervene, to ignore the information commissioner, a superior court judge, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is full steam ahead because of the events of September 11. The government is going to give itself so much power that, at some point, the criminal code will be affected. It will head in the direction of the Canadian Alliance, in the direction of the Canadian right, even if it means abandoning principles which have been years in the making and which are part of the criminal code. Not to worry. It is going to give itself far-reaching powers and it is going to use them.

This is absurd. That is why I wish to speak to Bill C-35. The preamble to the bill says that this will be a clearer piece of legislation and that it will also correct the deficiency in the existing statutory definition of international organization. When we examine this bill, we find that some of its provisions are even retroactive.

In Law 101, one of the most important considerations when examining a bill has to do with the retroactive effects, because this is contrary to many principles of Canadian law. There are even portions that are retroactive. On close examination, the provisions in clause 5 are absurd.

Under the guise of protecting our diplomats and people from outside the country, the government is preparing to give the police vast powers. Everything that is done currently will be set aside in order to tidy up and make things safer.

Let us have a look at clause 5. I understand that, because of the government's earlier motion, we can no longer introduce amendments at third reading. This is another way to gag the opposition. It is another way to ignore democracy in Canada.

It is rather strange that the government, which says it passes laws to protect democracy, is in fact ignoring democracy in order to get these laws passed. It is ignoring the elected representatives of the people, those with something to say to properly represent their constituents. They are ignoring all of these people in order to protect democracy, as they say. This is no doubt their democracy, their view of the things that, in terms of democracy, they want to protect.

Clause 5 of the bill amends the act by adding a new section. I think it is worth reading it. We are at third reading, and I think people have to understand what is happening. The amendment reads:

10.1(1) The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has the primary responsibility to ensure the security for the proper functioning of any intergovernmental conference in which two or more states participate, that is attended by persons granted privileges and immunities under this Act and to which an order made or continued under this Act applies.

Subclause (2) reads:

For the purpose of carrying out its responsibility under subsection (1), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police may take appropriate measures, including controlling, limiting or prohibiting access to any area to the extent and in a manner that is reasonable in the circumstances.

Subclause (3) reads:

The powers referred to in subsection (2) are set out for greater certainty and shall not be read as affecting the powers that peace officers possess at common law or by virtue of any other federal or provincial Act or regulation.

Is this clear? Has the proper legal terminology been used to give the clarity that is so greatly desired? If I answer this, I will be accused of petty politicking, and since it comes from the government, and the opposition has always criticized the government, it is certain that I will be told it is not true.

The bill was discussed in committee. People appeared before the committee, people who were not politicians, not evil separatists, as some may well think. Nor were they members of the Alliance, the NDP, the Progressive Conservatives, or anything else such as that coalition of members over there in the corner. No, they were specialists, people who had examined the issue.

What did these people have to say? They said that this amendment is either unnecessary to the extent that it purports simply to codify a status quo or, in the event that it's not unnecessary, it's woefully incomplete.

Those were the words used by a lawyer who came before the committee on November 6.

William Sloan, president of the American Association of Jurists, told the committee “You have ‘appropriate measures’ and then you have ‘to the extent and in a manner that is reasonable in the circumstances’. These are so many undefined terms; they are all terms the courts have found to be terms that confer discretion”.

He is right. When the courts interpret this, they will understand it to be a discretionary power given to the RCMP, or the Mounties, as the Prime Minister calls them. That is how they are going to interpret it.

Does giving discretionary power to police clarify the situation? I think not. The lawyers my colleague heard in committee—I was not a member but I am aware of certain facts—all said that it was not precise, not clear.

Wesley Pue, from the University of British Columbia, said that RCMP officers also need clarity. Ultimately, they are the ones who will face disciplinary measures, civil suits, investigations and possible criminal proceedings. The police deserves to have clear legislative guidelines.

This B.C. lawyer is surely not a Bloc Quebecois supporter. He said that, in order to protect police officers, the act has to be clear, because they are the ones who may be held liable by the courts if they go too far. Obviously, these officers, who deserve an appropriate framework to enforce Bill C-35, do not have the tools to interpret it correctly. They do not have legislative guidelines to do a good job. In opposing clause 5, we are also thinking about police officers.

As regards powers, if we want to change a situation, it is because there is a problem. What is the problem? How does the RCMP currently work? What are its powers? This is what we must look at if we want to properly assess clause 5 in Bill C-35.

Currently, there is no act that provides for the establishment of security zones. The RCMP's argument is based on a series of powers and judicial precedents.

So when the government tells us that we must stick to Bill C-35 and not look at other legislation, it is because it does not understand the bill. In its section on security zones, Bill C-35 refers to Bill C-42, which is now before the House. This is in the context of terrorism. We must also keep in mind the entire thrust of Bill C-36.

I can understand that it does not want us to look at all of them together, because the powers are truly excessive when lined up one beside the other. Canada is looking more and more like a police state. In any event, that seems to the objective of the Prime Minister, who claims to be the father of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. With bills like these, the child, which is the charter, must be renouncing its father right now.

So what powers does the RCMP's have right now? Does it have the legislative tools it needs? There is the Security Offences Act, section 2.3 of which provides that the RCMP has primary responsibility for ensuring the safety of individuals when, in paragraph ( b ):

the victim of the alleged offence is an internationally protected person within the meaning of section 2 of the Criminal Code

The entire first part of clause 5 of Bill C-35 is therefore unnecessary because there is already an enactment identifying very clearly those individuals the legislator wishes to protect.

Add to this the powers conferred to the RCMP under its incorporating act, which specifies, at section 18—and I will read it since clearly there are some government members who either cannot read, do not want to read, or do not take the time to read the existing legislation before wanting to amend it. Section 18 reads as follows:

It is the duty of members who are peace officers, subject to the orders of the Commissioner,

(a) to perform all duties that are assigned to peace officers in relation to the preservation of the peace, the prevention of crime and of offences against the laws of Canada and the laws in force in any province in which they may be employed, and the apprehension of criminals and offenders and others who may be lawfully taken into custody;

(b) to execute all warrants, and perform all duties and services in relation thereto, that may, under this Act or the laws of Canada or the laws in force in any province, be lawfully executed and performed by peace officers;

(c) to perform all duties that may be lawfully performed by peace officers in relation to the escort and conveyance of convicts and other persons in custody to or from any courts, places of punishment or confinement, asylums or other places; and

That is quite a few powers that the RCMP can already exercise:

(d) to perform such other duties and functions as are prescribed by the Governor in Council or the Commissioner.

This means the RCMP has the powers of peace officers, which powers are described and set out by the supreme court. It has spoken with respect to these powers over the years. It has established limits which we are looking for and which a number of international lawyers have said are absent from this legislation. The supreme court has set perfectly good guidelines for preserving the peace, preventing crime and protecting life and property.

Currently, before it intervenes in a situation, the RCMP considers the approach it will take based on existing case law in Canada. However, it takes years for case law, real case law reflecting supreme court decisions, to be incorporated in legislation—and it is worth remembering this, because the government members seem to have forgotten it as well, or actually did not know it.

There are certain principles of law that the supreme court has spent 20 or 30 years considering before establishing specific guidelines. In the matter before us this morning, the supreme court took some 20 years before clearly establishing the powers of the RCMP, what it can and cannot do, again in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which was clarified over the years, obviously since its passage. Why change it?

Let us look at the most recent events, for example, the summit in Quebec City. Did it provide evidence of a glaring legislative failing? Was it shown that we failed, in legislative terms, in Canada, and thus in my beautiful Quebec? Did we not have what it takes to face the music, as they say?

I think things went well at the Quebec City summit. There were demonstrations, it is true, but this is a free and democratic country and we are proud of that fact. There have to be such things. Yes, the demonstrations got a bit out of hand. Yes, some went too far, but there is the criminal code. Those who acted improperly should be taken to court for it. For those who plotted reprehensible acts, there is a whole section on plots in the criminal code.

We must not change something that is working. This is illogical. As I have just said, the events of September 11 are being used to justify exorbitant powers. This situation, dreadful as I admit it was, is being used to change the rules of the game in a number of different Canadian statutes. What I find the most alarming is that, when amendments are made and incorporated into the criminal code or some other related piece of legislation, this is going to influence courts trying criminal cases.

As we know, one of the principles in Canada and in Upper Canada—this will be my final point—is that a law is interpreted according to its legislative text. When questions arise, however, similarities are sought, either in the criminal code or in specific statutes. When this is done and an interpretation of the changes arising out of Bills C-36, C-42 or C-35, the bill before us at the present time, is sought, individual and group rights will be restricted, which is extremely worrisome.

I will close by saying that, had clause 5 of the bill been eliminated, we would have supported it, and we have been straightforward about this. Given the government's lack of courage in the way it is proceeding, however, by putting such powers into the bill, we will be voting against it. We are proud to oppose it, in the interest of individual and group rights.

Anti-Terrorism Act November 28th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I want to make sure we understand each other. I do not mind agreeing to a reasonable length of time, but I want us to come to an agreement as to what is reasonable.

I recall that at one point the Canadian Alliance used a reasonable length of time that was rather long. Let us define what reasonable is and then we will see whether we would agree to that or not.

Anti-Terrorism Act November 28th, 2001

Madam Speaker, Bill C-36 is most important, and to appreciate how important it is and understand the position taken by the Bloc Quebecois right for the start, a little background may be useful. Everybody knows that this bill stems from the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on September 11.

I listened to the remarks of Canadian Alliance members earlier, and I agree that they were the first to call for an anti-terrorism bill. I remember distinctly the answer of the justice minister at the time. She said “We have every tool we need in the criminal code to fight effectively against terrorism”.

Quite sincerely, I think she was right. The criminal code does provide a number of tools that can be used but criminal code provisions were not adequately enforced, as happens with many Canadian laws.

For several days, at least until the end of September or the beginning of October, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Finance—since there was the whole issue of money laundering and seizure of assets belonging to terrorists or terrorist organizations—the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the solicitor general and the Minister of National Revenue all took turns telling us that we did not need legislation to fight terrorism in Canada.

That was the position of all government members. Then, all of a sudden, on October 15, the government introduced a bill to fight terrorism. This means that either the government had been misleading the House, or that it drafted an anti-terrorism act in 15 days. Either way, this is not good. The government should tell the truth to the House and if it decides to introduce a bill like this one, it should do so after very careful consideration and after taking the time necessary to draft it.

Let us suppose that the government acted in good faith and took 15 days to draft this bill. This is very worrisome because this legislation affects many individual and collective rights. This bill was drafted quickly. Public officials told the committee that, indeed, they had drafted the bill very quickly.

What was the position of the Bloc Quebecois on Bill C-36? We initially supported it at second reading. We had read it and knew that much work would be required to make it acceptable. However we wanted to make sure that this legislation would be referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights so that witnesses could be heard and the bill improved. We agreed with the principle of the bill.

What was that principle? It was to have a tool to strengthen national security, if possible, but there had to be a balance between national security and individual and collective rights. This is what happened. The bill was reviewed in committee and we heard several witnesses, including experts in this field.

If I had more time I would read what some witnesses told the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, including the Information Commissioner of Canada and the person responsible for privacy and document protection.

They told the justice minister, among other things, that she should not touch the whole part on certificates and that she should not, as she planned to do, deny individuals access to information contained in privacy files, since the enabling legislation, the current act, contains an entire section on national security.

The independent commissioners who administer the act are free to decide whether or not the documents may have an impact on national security. There is a mechanism to protect taxpayers, those who we want to protect with such legislation.

The national executive committee of the Canadian Auto Workers Union appeared before the committee. Some ministers even told the committee that a sunset clause was needed, because we were dealing with an extraordinary legislation and limits had to be set.

The president of the Quebec bar association, Francis Gervais, testified on behalf of the Barreau du Québec and told the committee that in terms of arrest without a mandate and the right to remain silent, the bill would affect the rights of some individuals arrested by the police. He said that the bill was going much too far, that the definition of terrorist activity should be tightened and that a sunset clause should be included in the bill. The Canadian Bar Association also testified before the committee.

At the same time that the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights was studying this issue, the Senate of Canada, the other place, was also considering it. It tabled a report in which it tells the government that it is going too far and that it should amend the definition of terrorist activity and include in the bill a real sunset clause, which would not apply to international conventions.

Has the minister of Justice, who said she would listen to the opposition, to what experts would have to say in committee, and to the comments of the other place, really been listening? I do not believe so. I think she did whatever she wanted, or rather, if she did listen to someone, it was only to her deputy ministers. She did not listen to the people who appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Bloc Quebecois members took part in every single one of the committee meetings. We took copious notes and we listened to the witnesses. We played fair on this issue, we did not play politics, we did not keep any amendments under wraps for report stage. We put forward our 66 amendments in committee because we wanted to have the best possible legislation, which would strike a balance between national security and individual and collective rights.

As I said, we put forward 66 amendments. Every single one of them was defeated. It is not 66 amendments by the Bloc Quebecois that the members across the way rejected, but the amendments called for by witnesses. All those who appeared had very specific requests and these 66 amendments were an attempt to respond to them.

What were their concerns? The primary one, as I said before, and probably the most important, was that there should be a sunset clause in the bill. It is an exceptional bill for exceptional times. This is becoming a cliché or even a slogan, but it is true. We said and are still saying, because I believe it should have been done, that a sunset clause was needed, a real clause under which the act would cease to be in effect after three years. After three years, if the government still wanted to have these exceptional powers, it would have to start the legislative process all over again.

The minister has put forward a so-called sunset clause, but it is not a sunset clause. With a simple motion passed by the House of Commons and the Senate, this bill can be extended by as much as five years. This is not a sunset clause.

Since my allotted time is up, I conclude by saying that we, in the Bloc Quebecois, will vote against this bill at third reading. We will vote against Bill C-36.

We also say no to Bill C-42, its companion legislation. We will say no to this bill as it flies in the face of a great principle, the principle of democracy, for which we want to fight and will continue to fight here in the House of Commons.

Anti-Terrorism Act November 28th, 2001

Madam Speaker, since the subject matter of this debate is very important and two Bloc Quebecois members have followed the consideration of Bill C-36 in committee, I seek unanimous consent to split my time with the hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert.

Public Safety Act November 27th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I urge the minister to read proposed subclause 260.1(9) of the bill, which says exactly the opposite. If the minister cannot read, that is not my problem.

Will the minister recognize that this suspension of rights can last for up to a year and could be renewed for an additional year? Can the minister still maintain that this act will not change anything in Canada?

Public Safety Act November 27th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in responding to our concerns on Bill C-42, the Prime Minister said that it would still be possible to go to court. However, that is not the case for military security zones.

Will the Minister of National Defence recognize that one of the things that he could not do before but that Bill C-42 will allow him to do is to not only suspend the rights of citizens, but also to take away their right to sue the government for damages, losses or injuries?

Anti-terrorism Act November 27th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. First, as a result of our questions in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, we have learned that there is no indication at the present time that Canada could be a terrorist target. This is one thing that must not be lost sight of.

Also, a scant 72 hours after Bill C-36 was tabled, in this very place I questioned the Minister of Justice on certain provisions of the criminal code. She answered that the criminal code contained everything necessary to fight organized crime effectively. I remember very well that she even ridiculed the Canadian Alliance's desire for anti-terrorism legislation.

Suddenly, we learn that the Minister of Justice has hurriedly drafted a bill. It is tabled, then rushed through committee. Witnesses told us that they did not even have 48 hours to prepare, to properly study the bill.

Then the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights sat until three in the morning to study it clause by clause and push it through. The minister tabled amendments on the spot, out of the blue one might say, ones the Liberals had not even seen and which they blindly passed.

Today, they are putting a gag on us at the report stage, the 72nd one this government has imposed.

My question is a simple one: given the exceptional nature of this bill, given that individual and collective rights and freedoms are being wiped off the map by the Liberals, regardless of the minister's claimed desire to hear what the taxpayers had to say—which she obviously did not do, nor did she heed the Senate—where is the urgency to once again rush things and not at least listen to what the people's elected representatives have to say on a bill such as this?

Anti-terrorism Act November 26th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise following the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice. I do not know whether I should draw a picture or explain to him the difference between a real sunset clause and what the minister calls a sunset clause in Bill C-36.

Either the member across the way knows full well that he is misinforming the House as to what a sunset clause is or he has completely misunderstood the bulk of the evidence we heard at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

What the minister added to Bill C-36 is a misinterpretation of what a sunset clause is. Every expert, every specialist in this field, anyone who has studied the issue is saying loud and clear that the clause the minister calls a sunset clause is not a sunset clause.

What is a sunset clause? Obviously the member does not seem to understand it. I am going to explain it to him and then if he has not understood yet I will draw a picture in three colours. This applies to the minister too.

A sunset clause is a clause that states that the bill or certain provisions will no longer be in effect after a given date. For instance, if one chooses the same date as the minister, one would say that some provisions or the bill, with the exception of such and such a provision, will cease to be in force on December 31, 2006.

Sure, it is five years. We wanted three years; five years is too long. It is only to use the same example as the minister, the same date as the minister. It is a sunset clause. On the day after December 31, 2006, Bill C-36 would cease to exist. Then, if the government wants to re-enact the extraordinary powers it has grabbed, the legislative process would start all over again.

What is a legislative process? Maybe the member, the parliamentary secretary to the minister, still does not know what it is. It starts with the introduction and first reading of a bill. Then, there is second reading. After second reading, if the bill is passed by the House, it is referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The committee reviews the issue, hears witnesses, makes recommendations and proposes amendments to the bill. They are either passed or defeated in committee.

If it is adopted in committee, the bill comes back to the House for consideration at the report stage. There is a vote. Then we go on to third reading. There is another vote. The bill is sent to the other House and the legislative process starts over again. That is a real sunset clause.

The minister told us: “Work adequately and seriously in committee. I will listen to you. What you ask is important. What the other House will do is important. What people will say before the committee is important to me”. What the minister tabled as an amendment in answer to what was said in committee, no one had asked such a frivolous thing in committee, not even in the Senate. Because it is not a sunset clause, it is trivial.

Paragraph 83.32 says that 15 days after December 31, 2006, the government will have 15 days to adopt a motion, without parliament and the members of this House being able to make any amendments.

And with a simple motion, a simple resolution adopted simultaneously by this and the other house, the bill, or more exactly the act, because in five years it will be an act of parliament, the legislation will be extended without the members of this house, the elected members—and in five years, we will probably have seen another election; we will have new elected representatives who will have to justify their actions before their constituents—being able to add a word to this act, being able to modify it. Its application will be extended.

It is not a sunset clause. If there is the least bit of honesty in the front rows, they we will stop saying that paragraph 83.32 is a sunset clause. It is not true.

The justice committee members who are here this afternoon and listening to me know very well that nobody asked for such a clause.

As the member opposite said in his remarks, you will there is the whole issue of review. That review is just some more window dressing. It will be done three years from now. It is reassuring to see that every year a report will be tabled by the Attorney General of Canada and by the attorney general of each province. They will be reporting on their own administration of the act and on the powers they have assumed.

Does anyone know where that report will go? It will go gather dust on the shelves of parliament. Those shelves are full of reports that are worth no more than the paper they are written on.

Is that what we will have to make people feel secure? Who asked for that in committee? I was not absent very often, and in my absence, the hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert was there and later on we would exchange our information. Nobody asked for such a trinket. It is only as a joke that one might imagine such things. All that is to cover up, to grab powers and go on a power trip, as they are doing opposite.

This is a cause for concern because it will be a precedent in criminal law. When we amend the criminal code, this legislation will still be there. They will say: “This has already been done in Bill C-36 in exceptional circumstances, so maybe we could do it again with this principle of law or this criminal code amendment”. Where will it end?

The best proof that this is dangerous and that we can wonder how far this government can go is that—as if Bill C-36 were not enough—last week, Thursday to be precise, they introduced Bill C-42, another bill granting exceptional powers to certain ministers. It is another piece of legislation where the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is ignored. A state of emergency can be declared, and the motion is not examined for conformity to the enabling legislation and the charter of rights.

Do not tell me the charter will apply and that the courts will review this. It can take 30 to 60 days. That is not nearly enough to go before the courts and make sure any given measure is in keeping with the charter of rights and freedoms.

I cannot understand how members opposite, who can see what the ministers are doing, can say nothing. I know some who consider themselves to be champions of individual and collective rights. It is time they said where they stand.

It is not funny, but if we look at the amendments, for example Motion no. 6, we have to ask ourselves: Is the proposed amendment any better than Bill C-36? Just imagine. We are not wondering if this is the right amendment that will allow us to reach the desired balance between individual and collective rights and national security. We are not asking ourselves that question any more.

We can choose between a 35 tonne steam roller and a 25 tonne one. That is the choice we have.

In Motion No. 6, part 2 on the Official Secrets Act, the amendment deals with information that a person can hold and that would be subject to secrecy for life or for a period of 15 years. Will we put this information on hold for 15 years or for life? This is the choice we have today. Of course 15 years is better than life, but it would be even better if we did not have to wait 15 years. We are entitled to know what is going on. We are entitled to this information.

When we vote on an amendment, what we choose in fact is the one that is less offensive.

Across the floor no one rises to speak. In the corridors, when they talk to journalists, one or two members may blurt out that this bill does not make sense. They will say “This bill goes against individual and collective rights. I am a great champion of these rights and I will do my utmost to convince my caucus”. But what really happened? The government rammed 91 amendments through this House to strengthen some of the powers that it gave itself.

This is so true that it had to resort to a complicated scheme in the part dealing with the Access to Information Act. In order not to deprive the Minister of Justice of the power to issue certificates, they delegated that power to a judge of the federal court of appeal through a complicated process. It would have been so simple to delete clauses 87, 103 and 104 and go back to the enabling legislation, to the existing act, which is working well. Who says so? It is not the opposition, but the information commissioner and also the privacy commissioner. Is it so difficult for members opposite to understand that it is not necessary that ministers get involved in this for reasons of national security?

We agree with this motion which proposes to set a 15 year time limit but this is not ideal. Ideally the government should understand the situation and withdraw its bill.

Anti-terrorism Act November 26th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, in connection with Bill C-36, we in the Bloc Quebecois have always said that a balance had to be sought between national security and individual and collective rights.

At the committee stage, we introduced exactly 66 amendments for the purpose of attaining that balance. These were suggestions from a large majority of the witnesses we heard.

It would appear, judging from the evidence, that the minister did not get the feedback she sought, but we in the Bloc Quebecois sought it out and tabled amendments accordingly. I would remind hon. members that, on second reading in this very House, the Bloc Quebecois voted in favour of the principle of Bill C-36, the necessity of having national security legislation to combat terrorism if not to implement international conventions.

Given the events in committee, we are probably going to be voting against the bill in third reading.

We are now at the report stage. Hon. members are no doubt wondering why the Bloc Quebecois has not introduced any amendments. It is quite simply because, given the way the government treats parliamentarians in this matter, like many others—but it is more obvious here—whether or not we propose amendments is of no importance because the government would just reject them anyway. With the few amendments we do have before us, we shall just see which ones the government is going to entertain.

The first group we are looking at comprises Motions Nos. 1 through 4. The purpose of Motion No. 1 is to modify the definition of terrorist activity. In my opinion, it does not change much. We did, however, hear some witnesses who wanted to see division (A) simply removed, so as to avoid having any pointless delineation. It reads as follows:

(A) in whole or in part for political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause,

In my opinion, whether this stays or goes makes little difference, because the rest of the paragraph is sufficiently explicit on what we want to address as terrorist activities. The problem lies in the area we wanted to address, and those are the amendments the government has rejected.

On the whole issue of intimidation, this vocabulary should have been removed, since this is about terrorism, and not intimidation. The clause should have been amended accordingly, given that it is one of the main clauses that will be implemented.

As regards economic terrorism, I believe a number of witnesses who appeared told us that this did not exist, since material acts are committed as such, and that we want to define them as terrorist acts. As for the economic aspect, this is the consequence of an act that was perpetrated.

As for the rest of the definition, I will certainly have more time to discuss it at third reading, but there were some fears expressed regarding certain demonstrations, and whether or not they would be considered illegal. Some of these fears have been allayed by removing the word “lawful”.

However, protestors, such as those present at the Quebec City summit, are still included in the definition of “terrorist activity”, when this is not the case. Protestors commit mischief—and I do not condone this—when they break windows and become violent as was the case in Quebec City, and even here in Ottawa last weekend, but they are not terrorists, in the sense of those we are really trying to target with this bill. The definition should have been narrowed even more.

The government refused to do so in committee. Clearly, the amendment being proposed this morning is not going to solve this problem. Once again, the government seems to be saying “I hold the truth; follow me and do not ask any questions”. When they say this to opposition members, it just might be described as politics.

The numerous witnesses who appeared before the committee, some 60, 70 or 80 of them, and a number of groups, told us that this was too broad. The government is telling us to shut up and follow along because it knows what it is doing. I find the government's conduct an affront to democracy.

The second motion, which is part of the first group, seeks to increase transparency in a very important section on terrorist entities. Here again, we put forward a series of amendments in committee. The House will agree that, given parliamentary rules, we could not put these amendments forward again at report stage.

The purpose of our amendments was greater transparency. Motion No. 2 is another such transparency seeking amendment, which would insert certain procedures in section 83.05. This motion says, and I quote:

(1.2) The Governor in Council may, by regulation, establish the criteria to be used by the Solicitor General in making the recommendation to place an entity on the list referred to in subsection (1).

Clearly, these are procedures for deciding whether or not to include individuals on the list of entities, to determine whether a group is a terrorist group or not.

It also says:

(1.3) Before making the regulations referred to in subsection (1.2), the list of criteria, or any amendment thereto, must be tabled in the House of Commons and be debated within 10 sitting days after being tabled.

Obviously, we can only support such an amendment. Since what we were looking for in committee was transparency, or more transparency, and this amendment has the same objective, it is easy to support. We have no problem with it.

This group also includes Motion No. 3. This motion, as well, is intended to achieve greater transparency, but also to simplify matters for those dealing with a government decision as to whether or not they are on the list of terrorist entities. As Bill C-36 now stands, the government says that if the solicitor general does not make a decision within 60 days after receipt of the application, he is deemed to have decided to recommend that the applicant remain a listed entity.

That means that, if the solicitor general drags his feet and it takes over 60 days, the individual or group on the terrorist list will remain there. In the case of the amendment proposed, it should be the opposite. If the solicitor general fails to reach a decision within 60 days, in order to give the advantage to an individual or a group whose name is on a terrorist list, when it should not be there, since the minister is dragging his feet, “he is deemed to have decided to recommend that the applicant not remain a listed entity”.

This means that, if the minister does not act in time, that is within the 60 days, the name of the individual is deleted as a listed entity. This too, in my opinion, is an amendment that introduces transparency, or at least helps constituents find their way in very complex legislation. The government is helping them obtain justice.

The fourth amendment is in the same vein as two I moved in committee. It concerns the right to counsel. In a number of places, the rights of the individual are infringed upon and the individual is really not given the right to counsel.

I know that the general principle must remain, according to what the officials, the Minister of Justice and the Solicitor General of Canada have to say. But I would like it set out in black and white in the bill that the right to counsel is sacrosanct. When the bill was being considered in committee, the government voted against the amendments I moved.

This morning, an amendment to clause 4 was moved, and I quote:

(11.1) In any proceeding under this section, the presiding judge may appoint counsel to represent any person subject to the investigative hearing.

This is another amendment in the same vein and having the same objective as those I moved, which the Bloc moved in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Accordingly, we will support Motion No. 4.

It seems my time to speak is over, but I will have the opportunity to return to other clauses during the day.