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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word is rcmp.

Liberal MP for Vancouver Quadra (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 59% of the vote.

Statements in the House

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act March 10th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the first part of the NDP member's question. We want an oversight committee that is as effective as possible. That is what Bill C-22 promises and I am proud of that.

I am also very pleased that we have a government that accepts amendments proposed by opposition party members. We are making history because for 10 years, hon. members were unable to contribute to improving government bills. Now, committees operate in such a way that members of all parties can contribute to creating a more effective framework. That is what the committee did and the government accepted several proposed amendments.

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act March 10th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank the NDP member for her question.

I want to point out that today is a historic day. A bill like this one to create a committee of parliamentarians to oversee, improve, scrutinize, and analyze the activities and operations of over a dozen security intelligence agencies is unprecedented in Canada.

These kinds of activities were carried out in the dark. We had to have faith, without any oversight as parliamentarians, and that must stop. I think this is worth celebrating, and I hope the member will join me.

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act March 10th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join this debate on Bill C-22, an act to establish the national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians. It is a bill that would at long last enable Canadian parliamentarians to scrutinize our national security framework and our national security agencies, as our Five Eyes partners have been doing for years.

The creation of this committee would be part of achieving the dual objectives of keeping Canadians safe while safeguarding our rights and freedoms. It would also stand us in great stead among our international partners. In fact, the new Canadian committee would raise the bar for national security accountability worldwide.

I will touch on a bit of the history behind Bill C-22.

For many years, a great many Canadians, including me as an MP, have called for the creation of such a committee. The government of Paul Martin put forward a proposal that, unfortunately, died on the order paper.

Issues pertaining to the need for better oversight of national security organizations were discussed in 2008 in Justice Frank Iacobucci's Internal Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin, and in 2006 in Justice Dennis O'Connor's Report of the Events Relating to Maher Arar.

While the Conservatives were in power, both the private member's bill, Bill C-551, from the member for Malpeque, and my own private member's bill, Bill C-622, were tabled, as was a bill with bipartisan support in the Senate, all of which would have seen this committee created years ago.

My bill, Bill C-622, which called for the creation of a parliamentary committee of oversight, built on the two previous bills and also included an additional set of measures to increase the transparency and accountability of the Communications Security Establishment. It would have put metadata under the law and created a framework of accountability for acquiring, storing, or sharing information inadvertently or advertently collected. However, the timing of my bill was very interesting, because the final discussion and vote took place one week after the attack on Parliament, which had been preceded by two deadly attacks on Canadian soldiers. At that time, there was a great deal of concern about the security of Canadians, due to radicalization and potential terrorism.

In the remarks following the attack on Parliament, it was remarkable that all party leaders confirmed their commitment to protect the rights, freedoms, and civil liberties of Canadians, even as security measures were to be analyzed and strengthened. Indeed, Canadians expect these fundamental aspects of their very democracy being guarded to be respected. That kind of attention to security measures and privacy is the underlying intention of Bill C-22.

At the time, in 2014, I invited members of all parties to support sending my bill to committee for further examination and to signal the authenticity of their commitment to protecting privacy at the same time as strengthening security in Canada. Unfortunately, instead, the previous prime minister instructed his Conservative members to vote against Bill C-622, even though all members of the Liberal Party and all other parties in the House, including one brave Conservative member, voted for it. The bill failed. It was not passed.

However, I am now happy to see the government following through on the spirit of Bill C-22. I was proud to campaign on the promise of delivering stronger national security oversight by parliamentarians, and Bill C-22 delivers on that promise.

It is regrettable that it has taken so long, but we can be proud as the members of Parliament who will, I am confident, finally bring this essential parliamentary body into being. After all, as the federal and provincial privacy commissioners stated in the fall 2014 communiqué, “Canadians both expect and are entitled to equal protection for their privacy and access rights and for their security. We must uphold these fundamental rights that lie at the heart of Canada’s democracy.”

I followed with interest as the members of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security studied this piece of legislation, proposed and debated amendments, and amended the bill, frequently with the support of several parties.

I want to emphasize what a pleasant change this is from working under the previous government, whose members viewed government bills as sacrosanct.

That was especially the case with laws concerning security measures. As we know, Bill C-51 followed shortly after the tragedies of the attacks on soldiers and on Parliament and was pushed through, essentially with no amendments, despite the deep concerns of Canadians.

I feel that many of the committee's amendments improve the bill and the new committee it will establish.

For example, the committee amended clause 8 to expand the scope of the committee's mandate. When it comes to examining activities carried out by national security or intelligence agencies, the power of a minister to determine that the examination would be injurious to national security would now be time limited to the period during which the activity was actually happening. Once it was no longer ongoing, the minister would be required to inform the committee and the committee could then undertake its examination. I support this change.

I also support the amendment that gives the committee chair a vote only in the case of a tie as well as the NDP's addition of a clause requiring the committee to inform the appropriate minister of the discovery of any activity that may not be in compliance with the law.

I also support some of the changes to the exemptions that were in clause 14 initially, the information to which committee members were not entitled.

I agree with the public safety committee that the new committee of parliamentarians should be able to receive information about ongoing defence intelligence activities supporting military operations. I support that it should have access to information considered privileged under the Investment Canada Act and that it should have access to information collected by FINTRAC, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.

There were certain changes made by the committee that were not accepted by the government, for a variety of reasons. For example, there is the amendment currently before the House to reintroduce clause 16, which would allow a minister to prevent the release of information that constitutes special operating information under the Security of Information Act, when disclosing it could be injurious to national security. This kind of authority exists in the case of other equivalent committees in similar parliamentary systems around the world. Moreover, Bill C-22 would still require the minister to give written reasons for preventing the release of information, and Parliament would be informed of each occasion on which this authority was used.

This legislation is a major leap forward for Canadian national security accountability. The new committee of parliamentarians would not only provide Canadians with the assurance that their elected representatives, the MPs in Parliament, were on watch to strengthen the protection of their essential civil rights but would also help identify opportunities to improve on current mechanisms for defending their security. In fact, effective protection of individual privacy and effective delivery of national security measures are not a balance, a dichotomy, or a trade-off. They are complementary, and both are necessary.

The United States Department of Homeland Security, for example, considers safeguarding civil rights and liberties to be critical to its work to protect its nation from the many threats it faces. This third-largest department of the U.S. government now explicitly embeds and enforces privacy protections and transparency in all the department's systems, programs, and activities.

In 2014, deputy secretary Mayorkas confirmed in a Department of Homeland Security speech that not only is this an integral part of the DHS mission and crucial to maintaining the public's trust but it has resulted in Homeland Security becoming a stronger and more effective department.

The original version of Bill C-22, as presented by the government at first reading, was already lauded by experts, and it has only become stronger with the amendments accepted from the public safety committee. Crucially, the bill requires that the act be reviewed by Parliament five years after coming into force, so all of the discussions we are having here in Parliament can be reviewed and the bill can be changed as appropriate.

I am proud to have contributed to the conversation leading to Bill C-22. I am pleased that our government has taken this essential step forward in protecting fundamental Canadian security and freedoms. Ultimately, the bill before us today would make Canadians safer and help ensure that our rights and freedoms are better protected. It has been a long time coming. I invite all hon. members to join me in making it happen.

Business of Supply February 23rd, 2017

Madam Speaker, as I have already said, our government is committed to improving the openness of information. We have already used a number of tools and taken a number of steps to achieve that. We will continue this project because our objective is to make information more open and transparent for Canadians.

Business of Supply February 23rd, 2017

Madam Speaker, those who are paying attention to the issue of climate change and the chaos that we risk internationally because of its impacts, with the floods, the fires, and the droughts, like the member who asked the question, understand the kinds of devastation that are already occurring through long-term historic droughts that are driving populations out of their homes and farms. There are so many impacts I cannot even begin to list them. There are local impacts and international impacts. There are impacts on security and defence. There are great economic impacts and risks that have been identified by respected international bodies and experts over years, if not decades, so we know it is time to act and end the kind of game playing that we are seeing from the Conservative Party.

Business of Supply February 23rd, 2017

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned in my remarks, the pan-Canadian framework is about empowering the provinces and territories to have their own plans, so the impact of pricing carbon pollution, whether it be about stimulating the clean energy economy, whether it be about strengthening the clusters of innovation in academia, or whether it be about reducing poverty by returning proceeds of pricing carbon to lowest income Canadians, that will be up to the provinces to decide.

Frankly, this is just more effort to cover up the fact that the Conservatives have been attacking taking action on climate change as long as I have been in the House with alarmist claims that are counterproductive to the future of the country.

Business of Supply February 23rd, 2017

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the motion of the member for Carleton today.

I do have to say it is unfortunate to witness the Conservative members continuing alarmist attacks on pricing carbon pollution. It takes me back many years. It takes me back to 15 years ago, when I was British Columbia's environment minister and that was the argument of the day.

As we know, British Columbia's experience after having implemented a price on pollution 10 years ago is that, in most of the years since, emissions have dropped while the economy has grown; in fact, grown faster than anywhere else in the country.

I do encourage the members opposite to notice that the world has moved on from these kinds of arguments and that even many members of the business community and industry support the opportunity that pricing carbon creates for innovating and growing our clean energy economy.

I would like them to notice that the international community has moved on and has come together to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to ensure that warming stays below 2° centigrade, and hopefully 1.5° centigrade.

Moreover, in the current Liberal government's pan-Canadian framework, it will be up to the provinces and territories themselves to decide what tool to use to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, and as to the funds that are raised through whatever mechanism they use, it will be up to the provinces and territories to determine how they are returned to their public.

I will use my opportunity to speak to this motion to discuss its aspect around open and transparent government. That is one of the key themes of the motion, and it is one of the key themes of this government. That vision comes from the top.

In his mandate letter to the President of the Treasury Board, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of these values for Canadians. He said:

We have also committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in government. It is time to shine more light on government to ensure it remains focused on the people it serves. Government and its information should be open by default.

All of the cabinet ministers got that same message in their mandate letters.

The fact that Canadians, members of Parliament, citizens, and the media can see these letters and hold the government to account is the proof in the pudding of our Prime Minister's commitment. It sets the tone for a more modern, open approach to government.

In fact, our guiding principle is that government information belongs to the people it serves and should be open by default. Open by default means publicly releasing government data and information to Canadians, except in limited situations, which we all understand are for reasons such as privacy, confidentiality, and security. It also means ensuring, wherever feasible, that requesters receive information in modern and easy to use formats.

Let me be clear. We are facing a cultural shift in this government's way of doing business. We are talking about reversing the onus.

Instead of asking individuals to justify why they should have the information, the onus is increasingly on the government to provide it except if there are privacy, confidentiality, or security reasons not to.

Rather than wait for Canadians to go looking for the information they want, we make that information easier to find by making our operations more open and transparent.

Access to information is a good example of that.

Last May, we waived all fees for these requests for information, apart from the $5 filing fee. These fees were waived to enhance Canadians' access to government information.

We intend to introduce legislation that will bring forward other important improvements to the act. It is our hope that the House will pass this legislation. Then, after our first round of commitments has been enacted, the President of the Treasury Board will begin the proposed first full mandatory five-year review of the act in 2018.

The access to information review is a major component of our third biennial plan for open government.

This plan was released last July after extensive in-person and online consultations. It is part of our international relationship with the Open Government Partnership and its 75 members.

The President of the Treasury Board announced that Canada will take a leadership role to improve transparency and open government worldwide. In December, he announced that Canada would adopt the international Open Data Charter, and Canada is a candidate for a seat on the Open Government Partnership steering committee.

These are key parts of our international commitment to openness and transparency, and they will support strategic partnerships with governments and civil society organizations here and around the world. The shared global principles expressed in the Open Data Charter reflect our ongoing commitment to ensure government data is open by default.

For example, we are expanding and enhancing the government's open data and access to it. The government has a massive store of raw data that can transform how public servants make decisions, how people interact with government, and how organizations innovate.

We believe it is essential to make as much information as possible available to the public, charities, and so on. We have made a lot of progress, as people can see when they visit

We will do even more. We will increase the diversity, timeliness, and quality of this data. In addition, we have committed to streamlining requests for government information from citizens, including their own personal information. To that end, we will be creating a simple central website where Canadians can submit such requests to any federal institution.

It is hard to fully grasp just how much an open government could improve the world. That is why Canada has committed to providing open data training to governments and civil society groups in developing countries, for example.

That is why in last year's budget we doubled existing resources for open government initiatives. Beyond our new open government plan and its 22 commitments we are also fostering more open debate and more free votes in Parliament. We are working to reform the budgets and estimates processes to help parliamentarians hold the government to account. In fact, we are also inviting our subject matter experts in government, including scientists, to speak publicly about their work.

In closing, let me emphasize that open and transparent government puts government data in the hands of citizens as a vital resource in a digital world. It helps ensure the integrity of our public institution and strengthens trust in democracy. It stimulates innovation. It stimulates public engagement. We will continue to champion it for Canadians.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act February 14th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, our government sees the need for continuous improvement. We are proposing measures in Bill C-37. The minister brought forward a six-point action plan in September 2016. We cannot stop and say this crisis is fixed as long as people are dying on the streets from these horrendous illicit substances. Our government will continue to act on this issue.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act February 14th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my NDP colleague for his question.

We want a framework that prevents Canadians from dying accidentally because of illegal drug use. The provinces and communities have work to do. Bill C-37 must not be the end of the story. This is a very important initiative that will remove obstacles and support Canadians' health and safety.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act February 14th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I take the member's expressions of care and compassion around the victims of this crisis in good faith but it was his government that over 10 years set up roadblocks in the guise of community consultation that prevented many communities from being able to go forward with safe consumption sites that would have saved lives in their communities.

I am pained to hear that a clause is deemed a reason to not support this important law that needs to go ahead quickly as a foundational building block to save lives.