Mr. Speaker, before I start, I would like to inform you that I will be splitting my time with the member for Etobicoke Centre.
It is my distinct pleasure to stand in the House today to speak in favour of the anti-terrorism act, 2015.
There is a real and present terrorist threat to Canada and her allies. We saw this on our own soil in late October, and we have seen it countless times around the globe in recent months. Copenhagen, Paris and Sydney were all hit by radical jihadists who had declared war on western civilization. Again and again, we see that individuals radicalized to violence can carry out deadly acts anywhere and at any time, whether it be in the heart of our busy cities or on the streets of our small communities.
The challenge facing Canada and our global allies is how to address this evolving threat in a manner that respects the rule of law, as well as the rights of freedom upon which democratic nations are built. On this, we cannot and will not compromise. There can be no freedom without security. While each nation must ultimately decide what is best for its own citizens, we must also ensure that we coordinate our efforts on the international scale.
This same rule of thumb applies to our domestic activities. We must create a seamless and robust national security system that will be both proactive and reactive, overt in some situations and covert in others. It must be a system in which all federal agencies and departments are working from the same playbook, ensuring that we close critical gaps in information sharing and that we are confronting a threat like terrorist travel from every angle possible, using every tool at our disposal.
This is the direction toward which our government has been moving for many years. As it is laid out in Canada's counterterrorist strategy, we have a comprehensive approach to countering the terrorist threat to Canada and Canadian interests, one that rests firmly on partnership and coordination with communities.
In particular, on the domestic side, we have a developed a wide array of policies regulations, and legislation to help build a seamless national security system.
The bill before us is another step in this direction. The sheer breadth of this legislation and the number of departments and agencies that it would impact speak to the complex nature of national security and the need to engage partners. Although each element of the bill is distinct, when we step back and look at the overarching goal, we see how the pieces fit together to achieve one goal, which is to address the threat posed to Canada by violent extremists and terrorist travellers.
Allow me to briefly address the different elements of the bill and how they would work together to keep Canadians safe.
First, we would improve information sharing across federal departments and agencies as it relates to the issue of national security. As we have heard, there are a number of legal restrictions and ambiguities woven into the authorities of government departments and agencies which prevent or delay the sharing of information.
As an example, Citizenship and Immigration Canada currently collects immigration information and may share that information, but only as it relates specifically to immigration purposes. However, in today's environment of terrorist travelling and violent extremists, this type of information could also prove valuable for broader national security efforts.
This legislation would create a government-wide authority to share national security information with designated institutions that have a mandate or responsibilities as it relates to national security. Of course, this would be subject to robust safeguards to ensure accountability about how information is being shared.
The anti-terrorism act, 2015 also includes changes that would strengthen our passenger protect program, which was created to protect our aviation system by identifying threats to air passengers, crew, aircraft or aviation facilities. The proposed changes, among other things, will expand the scope of the program to address terrorist travellers, those individuals who do not pose a threat to a flight but who may be travelling to another country to take part in terrorist activities abroad.
The next element that I will speak about is the threat disruption. In this part of the legislation, we will build on CSIS' current work by providing it with the authority to proactively address threats at an early stage.
The fact is that CSIS is already working at home and abroad to collect intelligence, which it then analyzes and shares with the government. This change will add to CSIS' s mandate to allow it to capitalize on its expertise and knowledge to disrupt threats.
In carrying out its new mandate, CSIS would follow the same legal framework as it does for its current work. This means obtaining judicial or ministerial authorization before proceeding with much of these activities.
There are also proposed changes to the Division 9 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. While Division 9 proceedings are fairly rare, they are a critical tool to allow the government to use classified information to deny entry or status to non-citizens who pose a threat to our national security.
Bill C-51 would strengthen this tool in two ways. It would allow the government to appeal or seek judicial review of orders to disclose classified information during a proceeding, rather than afterwards as is presently the case. It would also clearly define in law which information would form part of a case before the court or the Immigration and Refugee Board. This includes information that is relevant to the case and that allows the non-citizen to be reasonably informed. This would enable the government to better protect classified information in immigration proceedings.
Additionally, the legislation includes elements that make changes to the Criminal Code, including making it easier for police to obtain peace bonds and recognisances; creating a new criminal offence for using the Internet to advocate or promote terrorist activity; giving courts the authority to seize terrorist propaganda materials, including removing these materials from the Internet; and ensuring that witnesses from law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies are better protected during national security proceedings and prosecutions.
As members can see, the bill contains a number of measures that have specific elements for our national security posture. Together they work to further protect Canada from violent extremists as well as strengthen our borders to ensure individuals are not leaving or entering Canada to perform acts of terror.
While we know the opposition has a spotty record on terrorism, it is not too late for the Leader of the NDP to abandon his conspiracy theorist position that the President of the United States lied about killing Osama bin Laden. It is not too late for the Liberal public safety critic, the member for Malpeque, to own up for initially refusing to list Hezbollah as a terrorist entity.