House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was elections.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Toronto—Danforth (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Citizen Voting Act February 3rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, that is an extremely good question. In fact, I took the liberty of talking to Elections Canada about that specific issue, and I very much expect that its testimony will be that 60 days would be impossible. The transitional provisions of the act do say that it would go into effect 60 days after entering into force.

It is not just an issue of th poll clerks across the country having to be trained, but the central staff at Elections Canada in Ottawa that would be receiving the applications from citizens abroad. They are in a better, more concentrated position to pass judgement on the identity documents that are coming in, but even they would need to do this accurately and take the time to do it within a very limited period.

I personally believe, and I believe that Elections Canada confirmed it during my discussions with them, that the 60 days is completely unworkable.

Citizen Voting Act February 3rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his presentation. Along with my colleague from Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, I acknowledge that this may not be the best day for the minister in terms of his health. Accordingly, in the spirit of what we heard from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I may be a little more gentle than I was intending to be.

Some here might have had a chance to read the piece that came out today in the National Post, where I make it very clear that I do believe—this sounds like how I started the debate on Bill C-23, what we call “the unfair elections act”—that the effect, at minimum, of these changes in Bill C-50 would voter suppression of citizens living abroad, and something that I am not sure the minister is fully aware of, namely, that it could create chaos with voting in Canada, because of the changes to a section that would prohibit the Chief Electoral Officer from authorizing any use of ID that basically does not have its origin Canada. I will explain why that could cause those problems.

I will stick with this phraseology that “in the result”, this is the problem, although seeing what has been knowingly put in the bill, I honestly think that the minister has to realize what these impacts would be. I hope that with some of the presentations during this debate and some of the criticisms he is already beginning to receive, he will be open to some serious amendments, including a couple that, to follow his own line, would be quite simple and could actually get rid of some of the serious blocking effects that I see. It is also important to note, although the minister did not really make hay of this in his own speech today, that in the presentation back in December when the bill was tabled, there very much was an effort to spin this bill in a way that created two false impressions. This is important to know.

One is that the press release in the backgrounder made it seem like the government was implementing the Frank judgement, which basically said that citizens away for more than five years now have the right to vote from abroad. It was very unclear from the presentation whether or not the Frank judgment was being accepted. It is important that everyone knows that Bill C-50 would not remove any provision in the Canada Elections Act that was struck down by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in the Frank decision. It is still sitting in the statute. The reason for this is that the government has clearly decided it is going to continue to fight to prevent citizens who have been away for more than five years from voting. It is appealing the decision, and it even sought a stay of the trial judgment to try to prevent it from going into effect. The Court of Appeal for Ontario denied that stay.

The fact of the matter is that the government is still actively seeking to keep as disenfranchised Canadians who have been living abroad for more than five years. Yet the presentation of the bill made it look like this was somehow an effort to bring things into line. If this were really bringing things in line with the Frank judgment, all the government would have to do would be to adopt the suggestion by the member for Halifax in her Bill C-575 and simply repeal the same sections the judge found to be unconstitutional in the case. Instead, the Frank decision is being used as a supposed reason for a wholesale change of issues that never arose in the Frank case. It is important to ensure that the Frank judgment does not carry the government along in any sense where people think the government is actually respecting that judgment. It is still appealing it.

Second, the press release directly claims that all Bill C-50 would do is to apply the same voter identification rules enacted by the so-called Fair Elections Act, Bill C-23, and extend those rules to Canadians voting from abroad. There is some truth in that. There are some analogues that get brought forward. For instance, the vouching for an address gets brought forward. However, Bill C-50 inserts a new prohibition on the kinds of documents the Chief Electoral Officer could designate as identity documents. It would apply to documents used by all.

The new subsection 143(2.11) would apply to all electors and would basically create additional limitations on what the Chief Electoral Officer would be free to authorize by way of identity documents.

Because of the wording in that provision, this would have impacts in Canada. It would also make it extraordinarily difficult for some Canadians abroad to produce the right kinds of ID that now they have to produce. They would not be able because of this change. This is new. This was not in Bill C-23.

I just want to set the scene by making clear that this is the case.

It is also important to note, to set the scene, although the minister has downplayed it in his presentation today, and I acknowledge that. There was a sign it was not going to go this way. There is virtually no reality to the idea that there is a fraud problem from voters from abroad. The judge in the Superior Court, Mr. Justice Penny, basically said that those kinds of claims were so unreal as to not even constitute a pressing and substantial reason under section 1 of the charter to limit the right to vote.

“Riding shopping” is not something that Elections Canada has ever seen as being a problem. All that happens at the moment is that multiple points of contact are available to increase the chances, the ease with which somebody from abroad can vote. The idea that there is something illicit going on when people choose to vote where their parents live versus choosing to vote where they last lived seems to me to be a spin that is designed to make this look palatable or necessary when there is actually no problem. There is no such thing as “riding shopping”, except perhaps in the minister's imagination.

It is important to clarify that when the minister talks about 40,000 non-citizens being on the register, this was brought to his attention—and I am glad that two years later he is acting upon it—by the Chief Electoral Officer. The new mechanism that would allow the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to allow Elections Canada access to the non-citizen database that CIC has would be great. However, it is important to note that we are talking about a fear, by error, that approximately that number of people are on the national register, not on what is, until this point in time, the international register. To get on the international register, one has to actually show one's citizenship.

It is a separate issue that would be dealt with in the bill, but it should not be confused with anything to do with a concern that non-citizens are voting from abroad. I fear that, unintentionally, the minister's emphasis on that could allow people to think this is what is going on. No, the issue is cleaning up the national register for people who are in Canada. That is fine. That one particular piece is a good thing in the bill.

I do feel duty-bound to note that Elections Canada was not consulted on this, except for the discussion a couple of years ago on the issue of trying to ensure non-citizens were removed from the national register where they appeared in error. That will probably prove to be a problem at the time of committee because we will probably hear some very detailed testimony from Elections Canada about many problems the bill would create.

As long as the minister is open, seriously open, to changing them, because these have not been foreseen because there has been no consultation, we might well end up with a productive committee process. If the minister thinks it has all been thought through and that whatever he hears from Elections Canada will not change his mind, then we will have a serious problem. What we will have, in effect, is the minister confirming that the intention here is to make it much more difficult to vote from abroad and that it is not just the unfortunate result of how the act was written.

Let me go to this issue that is the sleeper issue. It is the question of subsection 143(2.11). It is a new provision that would basically create a new prohibition on the Chief Electoral Officer. It says:

—the Chief Electoral Officer is not permitted to authorize...a type of identification that has been issued by an entity other than...a Canadian government, whether federal, provincial or local, or an agency of that government; entity that is incorporated or formed by or under an Act of Parliament or of the legislature of a province or that is otherwise formed in Canada.

It is fairly complex wording.

The bottom line, as the minister made clear, is to ensure that ID only originates in Canada, essentially. That seems to be the general idea. The problem, however, is that it has been done in a way that might actually end up creating some serious administrative, and even more serious problems, in Canada.

This new prohibition, which is intended to deal with voters from abroad so they have to somehow produce Canadian-originated ID, is going to have an impact on everybody who shows up on election day in Canada.

What is the reason for that concern? First, “formed in Canada” is not a legally known concept and is not defined in the bill. The question of what an “entity formed in Canada” means is going to produce some serious problems in Elections Canada trying to scope it out, and then having that interpreted on election day by pressed election officials. We really need to ensure that this will be clear. Obviously the intention is probably that organizations like the CNIB are covered, and it is not just documents issued by corporations, for example, utilities bills, et cetera. However, the language is used in a way that is very unclear.

Here is an issue. Now a voter can use a Visa, Amex or MasteCard bill as one piece of ID to show an address. However, people could show up with it, and the deputy returning officer or the chief poll officer could look at it and ask if Visa is a company incorporated or formed in Canada, is there a Visa Canada and who has issued the document. The chance of that kind of minute questioning will be a problem, even if it seems farfetched. It will create serious workability problems. I know for a fact that Elections Canada is concerned about this extra burden and the mistakes that could be made.

The second thing is that it is not at all clear to me that private leases will be caught by this wording, as I asked in my question to the minister. The language is all about corporations, entities or government agencies. There is no scope there for a document that has effectively been issued by an individual, which is what private rental leases are. They are often a form of identification to prove address that students in university tend to use.

The bottom line is that this will create workability issues that I do not think the minister intended to create, but that we will hear about in committee from Elections Canada. The unworkability issue is major.

I am also concerned that some party scrutineers who now would be allowed to ask to inspect identification documents as a result of Bill C-23 would see these new rules as an opportunity to ask, more often than they should, for proof that this new provision has been met by whatever document has been presented by somebody showing up.

If somebody shows up with a Visa bill, somebody might ask the deputy returning officer if that is a document issued by an entity formed in Canada. Maybe it is a document issued by an entity doing business in Canada. We can imagine the opportunity for mischief that could occur.

I am being a bit like the minister in that I am looking down the line at what kind of abuse is possible. The minister looks in one place and I look in another. We have to talk about that.

In my remaining minutes, I want to talk about what everybody knows is a big concern. The big concern here is that the new requirements for citizens voting from abroad can be extremely onerous. They can produce delays that can result in ballots not arriving in time to be counted.

The primary problem is the requirement that voters have to register for each election, apply to receive their ballot or register, the same kind of thing collapsed into one, only once the writ has been dropped. People have to be aware that it has happened. They have to register quickly enough in order to ensure that all the mail can occur. As the minister has said, sending in their application, even if that is virtually, and receiving the special ballot and mailing it in and doing that from Dar es Salaam, New Delhi or Sydney, requires time.

There are all kinds of reasons to think that the way the mail service works or the way citizens abroad may be not be immediately on top of when a writ has been dropped could result in timelines that could be almost impossible to make. Currently, people can register in the international register at any time. However, I believe we will hear testimony from Elections Canada saying that currently when people wait to register until the election has been called, there is an increased incidence of the ballot not arriving in time.

A system has been created in this new bill whereby that problematic situation that we already know exists, for some who wait too long to register, get their ballots and mail them in, is now scripted as the only way. Therefore, the delay issue is huge.

We should also not underestimate the problem of ID. The longer people have been away, the chances that they have retained Canadian-issued IDs, apart from their passports, may go down dramatically. In some jurisdictions when people get local drivers' licences, they actually have to hand in their old drivers' licences. People who are hoarders, and have kept every ID they have ever had, may have no problem. However, with no notice, many of the two million Canadians already abroad may already have sort of jettisoned or lost the IDs that they now have to use.

They cannot rely on the Chief Electoral Officer to issue a list of acceptable foreign IDs that go along with proving people's addresses. Let us say people still have to prove their last known addresses in the way the bills wants, but they can use their passports and some foreign piece of ID as corroborating ID. The Chief Electoral Officer is not permitted to allow that, even though a foreign driver's licence is at least as good in proving who one is as a Canadian licence. It has nothing to do with the address, but it does with identity. Therefore, there are serious problems with actually producing two pieces of ID for some abroad that we have to take into account.

Let me now talk about vouching. The bill would get rid of the possibility that people could vote where they would have a strong connection to relatives and would focus only on people's last known addresses. The problem is they have to prove it affirmatively. If people do not have pieces of documentation saved, such as a driver's licence, which in New York state they have given up to the Americans, then they basically will have to rely on this new vouching provision.

The new vouching provision says that people have to provide proof of their last place of residence, so they would have to contact their neighbours and ask them if they remembered them when they were neighbours seven years ago. They would have to ask them to do this attestation. They would need a statutory declaration, see their IDs to prove they are voters, have them fill out a form, get the form back to them and then include it in their package in applying to vote. We can obviously see that the one big problem is the delay this will create. The need to have someone vouch for them within a 35-day election campaign period will already make it virtually impossible to meet that deadline.

The other issue is that all the same rules in Bill C-23 apply. A person cannot vouch for more than one individual. If a family of four living abroad can only find one neighbour who still lives where the family used to live and the neighbour lives alone, that neighbour can only vouch for one of them. The other three are out of luck.

Therefore, it is very clear that the issue of how the vouching system would work will not be as relatively easy as it is in Canada when somebody on election days goes with the person to vouch for him or her. The idea of saying that the rules are the same for those voting in Canada and those voting abroad is a very formalistic understanding of equality, because when the same rules are applied to very different circumstances, there is a serious disadvantage in complying with the rules. The committee will find example after example like this and the minister will really have to get his mind around them.

Let me give another example. Students going abroad to get their masters degrees or Ph.D.s quite often are heading off from a previous university. Now, sitting in London, Paris, or New York, they will have to prove that their last residences were in university towns and pretty much the only people who know that was the case are former students, who themselves have moved on. How will a proper vouching system be created for that particular case? It may sound like an imaginary issue, but it is not. When we think about students moving around internationally, they usually move from a university town or an address that they lived at to obtain their education.

What I would say is that in its result, Bill C-50 is a clear exercise in suppressing the votes of citizens abroad in a way that is diametrically opposite to the spirit of the Frank judgement, which the minister started out by invoking as the reason for these changes.

In sympathy for the minister and his illness today, as he seems to have the flu, I will not hit too hard any more, but I very much hope that he is not doing this intentionally in the bill. I also hope that, for once, we will be able to make serious changes at committee based on the evidence that there are problems with this bill.

Citizen Voting Act February 3rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, my general views about the bill will be made known in my reply speech, but I am hoping to ask a series of specific questions to the minister that could ease the way in committee if the answers are clear.

Although this may not be intended, a new provision, proposed subsection 143(2.11), says that any ID authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer must come from some governmental entity or an entity formed in Canada. I am just wondering whether it is known by the government that this language looks as though it would exclude private leases, leases issued by individual persons. Students, for example, are often subject to those leases. I am wondering if this was intentional, and if not, whether the government would be open to a clear amendment on that point.

Second, the snowbirds phenomenon is such that they have the temporary absence voting rules, but unlike other citizens abroad, who can be vouched for by anybody from the entire riding, temporarily absent Canadians can only have somebody from their poll vouch for them. However, the polls are not known until about 10 days before election day. That is when the VICs get issued, so the fact of the matter is that any snowbirds who have to rely on the new vouching provisions would not be able to do it in time. They are in a specific problematic situation. I am wondering if the minister realizes that and would fix it.

Third, under the current system a special ballot can be mailed to an address that someone has failed to change in the international register. As an example, a Canadian who moved from his or her address in Mexico City may have failed to change the address in the international register, and a Mexican may now live at that address and receive the ballot. Does the minister really believe that the Mexican will pick up the ballot, fill it out, send it back, and vote in Toronto—Danforth, or Nepean, or wherever else? How real is that scenario as one of the reasons for changing this entire system to make it much more difficult for citizens abroad to meet deadlines and fulfill the requirements in order to be able to vote at all?

Victims Bill of Rights December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, an extended colleague I have worked with, or have been associated with, a leading criminal defence lawyer from Toronto, Frank Addario, says it well. I am sorry to put it as harshly as he did, but he is correct. He says, “It's cynicism masquerading as policy”.

I basically think that unless this victims bill of rights is used as a platform for future law-making that takes serious account of everything we have been discussing so far here today, it will end up being mostly symbolic and, possibly, a major contribution to the further frustration and alienation of victims, and not a source of assistance for them.

Victims Bill of Rights December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that was an excellent series of comments from my colleague.

I think it is true that even on their own terms in the bill, all of the access points, some of them just reminding us of stuff that already exists in the legal system for victims in criminal law proceedings, will end up creating more frustration than anything else if there are not effective resources to assist victims and victims families in participating in the system in the way that supposedly is envisaged by the bill.

Absent provincial governments coming along and picking up the slack, which is often what this government seems to want to happen in other areas, and saying that they will restructure our legal aid system, despite the fact that they are in a financial crunch, in order to pick up on the victims bill of rights, there is nothing the federal government has done to assist with the level of resource provision that is necessary.

I would also note that the organizations I referred to earlier, Out of Bounds and the Blake Boultbee Youth Outreach Counselling Services, are exactly the kind of organizations that year by year are scrambling to find resources and are using grant money, and very minimally, money from government, to do amazing value-added counselling for the victims of crime. Somehow or other in our system, those kinds of organizations largely fall through the cracks, but nothing in this victims bill of rights seeks to even recognize that, let alone address it.

Victims Bill of Rights December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have the chance to contribute to this debate on Bill C-32, the Canadian victims bill of rights.

I will be focusing mostly on opportunities lost with this bill. We do know that the government promised a victims bill of rights almost a decade ago, at least from 2006 until now. In the end, we end up with a bill that is quite formalistic in that it focuses extensively on the justice system, the criminal legal proceedings side of things.

It is not as if the provisions are worthless; the access of victims to a greater role in some aspects of the criminal justice process is indeed welcome. However, beyond that, looking at what crime really involves and what it does to victims seems to have been lost in the shuffle, and victims include family members, neighbours, and the people who are close to people who suffer because of a serious crime.

It seems as if the government has chosen to go a very legalistic route and not tackle victims' rights as effective rights, as non-illusory rights, as rights that are held by real people who suffer in the real world.

It is not as if there were not several victims who came in as witnesses, as well as associations representing them, to speak to these issues during the committee process and also during some of the consultations the government engaged in for a very short period. However, they seem to have been ignored, by and large.

I have a personal experience with ignoring such information. In tandem with Rev. Sky Starr of the Out of Bounds organization in Toronto, Joan Howard, an activist from my riding who lost her son to gun violence a decade ago, and Prof. Bailey from Ryerson, we organized a seminar here on the Hill intended to inform interested MPs and staff members on the question of grief and trauma when it comes to the victims of crime, especially violent crime and maybe most especially gun violence.

It was an extremely good seminar, and I was delighted to know that a representative from the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister did come and seemed to be highly engaged, and did understand what he was hearing about the need for support for grassroots, on-the-ground organizations that are actually delivering the services to many victims' family members, in cities like Toronto and in my riding of Toronto—Danforth.

However, nothing that came out of the insights from that seminar held here on the Hill appear to have penetrated this bill. That seems to be the experience that is a generalized one for those looking for a more holisitic, wide-ranging understanding of what it is to assist victims of serious crime.

I have just one other example. There is a mechanism, but nobody knows quite how it is going to work, in the bill of rights. It is a rather general mechanism to file complaints with various federal departments and agencies if victims feel they are not getting the service they are owed, given the rights that are found in various pieces of legislation.

The victims bill of rights recognizes that it should be possible to bring the same kind of complaints in provincial jurisdiction, but no specific funds have been attributed to making such a complaint mechanism or series of mechanisms effective. We can tell right from the beginning that, without allocating such funds through budgeting, it is almost a gesture without meaning. These things do not work on their own.

It also reflects something the government tends to want to do a lot, which is to download costs onto the provinces wherever possible. When I was on the justice committee working on a bill dealing with surcharges that perpetrators would have to pay to victims as part of their sentence, I learned that the government members on the committee had two primary philosophies with respect to how victim support services would be paid for. One was through the perpetrators themselves, most of whom do not have deep pockets, to put it mildly. The other was through the provinces.

The idea that there is an extended responsibility of the federal government, through its criminal law jurisdiction, to fund through the spending power support programs across the country and the provinces, or at minimum work co-operatively with the provinces to get away from the patchwork quilt of services that now exist for supporting victims, for example for ongoing trauma, grief and other kinds of consequences of crime, seems to be well outside, almost alien to, the philosophy of the government.

All this is to say that we are disappointed. I at least am very disappointed that nothing resembling a contribution through the victims bill of rights, with a parallel commitment through the budgetary process to real support and real processes that are effectively funded, is found in this bill.

I would like to quote from l'Association québécoise Plaidoyer-Victimes, which has a very interesting insight on exactly this point. It says, “Strengthening victims' rights in criminal proceedings is of course necessary”. We are not second-guessing that either. It goes on to say, “But, it is important not to obscure their social rights, so the rights that allow them to access assistance, compensation and programs, to help them deal with the various repercussions of the crime. Governments have a responsibility to recognize victims' rights, but also to help them exercise those rights. They must concern themselves with the fate of all victims, and not just those who are already implicated in the justice system”.

Obviously, there is always a preventative component to this kind of philosophy, but there is also the question of responsibility for those who are sideswiped by crime: family members, neighbours, somebody who may just happen to be witnessing.

If there is any group of people who should understand how quickly and viscerally violence can impact on our lives, it would be MPs who were exposed to what happened on October 22. In the real world, we were not actually all that much at threat, it turns out. However, the fact of not knowing, the stress of not knowing and the trauma that was produced among some here in this building on that day and among family members not knowing what would happen should be something that we can all use productively to extrapolate to what it is to actually be a family member, friend, loved one, neighbour or witness to a violent crime in the other real world outside of the House.

I would like to end by paying tribute to, and remembering, people who, on this issue of how to think about victims and real support for victims, have been my mentors.

I think of Joan Howard who lost her son, Kempton Howard, 10 years ago. To this day she is still struggling with that loss, but she also learned that one of the pathways she could go down was to help other people with the grief that they suffered when they also lost a loved one, particularly a child, to gun violence. I salute Joan Howard for helping me learn more about the particular harm that gun violence can do.

Reverend Sky Starr has been recognized as a pioneer for social activism by CBC, one of the top 50 in a list that CBC produced, as a pioneer in grief counselling. She runs an organization called “Out of Bounds”. I was there just the other night for an annual event recognizing and offering support to mothers in particular who have lost children in the city of Toronto to gun violence. With her leadership, the very notion that grief counselling has to be put front and centre in the kinds of psychological counselling services needed for victims has been advanced.

I also think of Rod Cohen who runs Blake-Boultbee Youth Outreach Services, a counselling service in Toronto—Danforth. The work he has done with at-risk family and youth in situations that often involve trauma, at minimum high degrees of stress, because of proximity to crime as one factor is notable.

I end by noting that we lost recently in Toronto—Danforth, Nahom Berhane, an outstanding young member in Toronto of the Eritrean Canadian community. While seeking to assist somebody else, he was shot down on the Danforth, one more reflection of how guns, short guns let us say, in the city of Toronto remain a plague.

Victims Bill of Rights Act December 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank my colleague, who has, not just on this bill but on countless bills, put in so much effective and hard work in the justice committee.

The question I had asked earlier of the parliamentary secretary touched on a bill that we worked on dealing with surcharges. One of the things I have learned about the government's attitude is the idea that support for victims from the federal perspective comes from one of two things. One is the perpetrator pays, which is a completely inadequate philosophy given how little money most have and how little that would amount to anyway, and/or the provinces pay.

I wonder whether my colleague would comment and agree with me, perhaps, that the understanding of the government about the criminal law jurisdiction of the federal government is entirely cramped and that it really stops at the gates of legislating for law and order purposes and really does not take into full account the responsibility of federal law for working with the provinces to deal with victims and their families, and the trauma and grief they experience, in particular.

Victims Bill of Rights Act December 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would simply like to ask my colleague if he is aware of whether or not the government gave consideration to something that came to my attention when we were dealing with the bill. It was in an earlier private member's bill and was about adding penalties to perpetrators of crimes to help pay for victims.

The restitutional and compensation provisions that allow for claims to be brought in this bill are one thing, but that fact of the matter is that the needs of victims and their families for support at the level of trauma and grief are huge in this country. We are faced with a patchwork quilt and not across-the-board federal involvement.

I wonder if my colleague across the way can tell us whether any consideration was given to enhancing the role of the federal government in supporting groups on the ground that are helping people struggling with grief and trauma.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make one simple point with my two minutes.

I would like to draw attention to the witness testimony from Professor Craig Forcese of the University of Ottawa. He said:

I think in the final analysis a warrant will be required whenever foreign surveillance involves covert interception of telecommunications. I also believe the amendments [to the law] may be interpreted as requiring a warrant any time an operation may violate international or foreign law. These would be sensible standards, but because the bill is not emphatic, establishing these standards may require another round of litigation. Therefore I strongly urge the committee to pre-empt the necessity of another half-decade of uncertainty by adding clear language on the trigger for seeking a foreign surveillance warrant.

In committee, we tried just that. We wanted to introduce an amendment, but in the end it was not needed, because another member of the opposition tried something similar. However, it started with the words “for greater certainty” and then said that a warrant would be needed where investigative activities conducted outside of Canada would normally require a warrant if conducted inside of Canada—by reason of the charter—or if the activity may be inconsistent with international law or the law of the foreign state.

Therefore, in tandem with what Professor Forcese said, the official opposition is firmly of the view that this is already implicit in the law, even though the government has chosen not to clarify what standard is needed for a warrant to be requested on a mandatory basis. It is very clear, at a minimum, that the standard I just read out, and which was offered up by Professor Forcese, is what clearly the courts will read into the law. This is the official opposition's understanding of the very minimum requirements for a warrant.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague if she agrees with something one of the witnesses said in the session that I happened to attend. In fact, there were only two witness sessions, and I was there for one as a substitute. Professor Forcese, from the University of Ottawa, talked about the fact that warrants are now required for overseas activities, but no standards are written into the legislation. He said that the standards would have to make sense in order for the courts to interpret them.

He stated:

I also believe the amendments may be interpreted as requiring a warrant any time an operation may violate international or foreign law. These would be sensible standards....

Our critic from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca had an amendment ready that said:

For greater certainty, a warrant under this section is required for any investigation outside of Canada that

(a) involves an investigative activity that, were it conducted inside Canada, would require a warrant by reason of the Canadian Charter...or

(b) may be inconsistent with international law or the law of the foreign state in which the investigative activity is conducted.

He did not move it because a similar amendment had already been moved by one of the other opposition members.

I am wondering if my colleague would agree with me that “For greater certainty...” would have been a very good amendment to accept, but at the same time those are eminently sensible standards that we would expect the courts to interpret into the law to ensure that those are the standards applied when warrants are sought.