Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in favour of Bill C-10, the safe streets and communities bill.
Canadians gave our Conservative government a strong mandate to keep our streets and communities safe. Part of that important mandate is protecting Canadians both at home and abroad from threats of terrorism, while giving those who do fall victim to a terrorist act the tools they need to have their voices heard.
Since coming to office in 2006, we have been clear: a Conservative government is a government that will put the protection of law-abiding Canadians first. We have taken strong action to fulfill our commitment to protect Canadians by taking a tough on crime approach and giving our law enforcement agencies the resources and tools they need to do their jobs. We have also moved forward in many areas to crack down on crime and to ensure that our streets and communities are safe and secure.
When talking to my constituents, I hear a common theme. They tell me that they want a justice system that actually delivers justice and a corrections system that actually corrects. I believe the legislation in front of us today is an important step forward in that regard.
We will continue to reverse the shameful trend which began under the Trudeau regime where former solicitor general, Jean-Pierre Goyer, stated that the protection of society was a secondary objective to protecting the rights of criminals. Our Conservative government completely rejects that premise and will continue to work to return common sense to the correctional system.
Recently, all of us have witnessed the terrible consequences that terrorism can have for individuals and communities across the globe. In our time, terrorism has left casualties from New York to New Delhi. We know that Canada is not immune to the threat of radical-led terrorism. We need to recall the hundreds of Canadians who died in the atrocity of the Air India attack and all those who lost their lives on 9/11.
We should not forget that Canada has been named as a target by organizations such as Al-Qaeda. We have also seen the successful prosecution of homegrown terrorists who were arrested before they had a chance to carry out their sadistic plot.
It is starkly clear that Canada has a large role to play in the global fight against terrorism, a role that we have played and will continue to play in the battle against those who use senseless violence against civilians.
That is why I will focus my remarks on Bill C-10 today on justice for the victims of terrorism.
These amendments would strengthen Canada's ability to expose and cut off the material support for terrorism. They would ensure that those who do fall victim to terrorism are able to seek justice and that those who commit or support terrorist acts are held accountable for their actions.
Terrorist groups rarely act alone. The scale and sophistication of terrorist operations demand a vast amount of financial and organizational support. That support often comes from within states led by radical anti-western governments. Many observers have often described the relationship between terrorist groups and certain governments as one of a state operating within a state. Shockingly, on occasion, private individuals living right here in Canada can be sources of support for those who wish to attack our country.
The fact is that money is the lifeblood of terrorism. One of the most effective ways to stop terrorists is to strike at their largest vulnerability, which is their wallets. Bill C-10 aims to do that by holding terrorists and those who support them fully financially accountable.
Bill C-10 would create a cause of action to allow victims of terrorism to sue terrorists and supporters of terrorism for any loss or damages that occurred as a result of terrorist acts committed anywhere in the world on or after January 1, 1985. The target of these suits will include individuals, organizations and certain states that the government has listed for their support to terrorism.
In the case of states, Bill C-10 proposes the creation of a government list of states that there are reasonable grounds to believe support terror. Those states would no longer be immune from civil action. This would allow Canadian courts to hold these supporters of terrorism accountable for their conduct.
On the recommendation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in consultation with the Minister of Public Safety, a state would be added to a list of designated states if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the state supports or has supported a terrorist entity listed under the Criminal Code.
The Criminal Code currently lists 44 entities as terrorist organizations. These organizations are subject to rigorous and regular review. States that financially support these organizations cannot be considered a friend of Canada.
We will take all the appropriate precautions to minimize any potential negative impact on Canadian trade or foreign relations or threats to Canadian personnel, interests and citizens abroad when listing and delisting states.
Bill C-10 would also establish a review mechanism to ensure the timely removal of states from a list if they clean up their act and no longer support terrorism. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, in consultation with the Minister of Public Safety, would review the list every two years to determine whether listed states should remain on the list. Ministers would also review information on non-listed states every two years to determine whether any other state should be added to that list.
Additionally, a listed state could apply to be removed from the list by submitting a written application. Once this application is received, the Minister of Foreign Affairs would, after consulting with the Minister of Public Safety, decide whether there were reasonable grounds to recommend to the Governor in Council that the state no longer be listed.
As important as the ability to sue states that support terror is that individuals and corporations that support these actions would also be held liable. Financiers of terror would be held accountable.
Bill C-10 would do more than just create a cause of action for victims of terrorism. It would also allow victims who have successfully sued a terrorist entity or supporter to request assistance from the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Finance in identifying and locating in Canada the property of that entity.
Several years ago, the world witnessed the effectiveness of those measures when the families of the Lockerbie bombing victims were given the right to sue the Gadhafi Libya regime for the role it played in supporting this horrific act of terrorism. The former government of Libya subsequently admitted its part in the attack, provided compensation to the families and renounced the use of terrorism.
Creating this cause of action would hold terrorism and its supporters to account through the courts, giving victims the opportunity to seek justice. This is something victims have sought for some time and our Conservative government is proud to deliver.
I urge all members to give speedy passage to Bill C-10. I especially urge my colleagues in the NDP to support the bill and put the rights of victims and law-abiding Canadians ahead of the rights of terrorists and their supporters. We must stand united in sending a message to those who commit terrorist acts and to those whose support them that they will be held accountable for their actions.