moved that Bill C-371, An Act respecting the prevention of radicalization through foreign funding and making related amendments to the Income Tax Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to stand in my place this evening to speak to my private member's bill, Bill C-371, the prevention of radicalization through foreign funding act.
One of the privileges of being a member of Parliament is the opportunity to craft and bring forward legislation that will make a difference for Canadians. Given the inability of ministers of the crown to bring forward legislation, this is the first time since being elected in 2006 as the member of Parliament for Parry Sound—Muskoka that I have had an opportunity to bring forward a bill for consideration by my colleagues.
It is my sincere hope that the prevention of radicalization through foreign funding bill will be seen as a non-partisan and thoughtful attempt to address a national security policy gap. This is a gap that has been identified by our security experts, and addressing this policy void will strengthen our government's ability to combat radicalization and extremism in Canada in all of its ugly manifestations.
I truly see the legislation as a powerful and practical tool to stem the flow of foreign funding that would promote radicalization and extremism in Canada. The bill would provide the government with the ability to set out a schedule of foreign states, and extend our reach to individuals and entities that suppress religious freedom, impose punishments for religious beliefs, or have engaged in or facilitated activities that promote extremism, terrorism, and radicalization.
Under this legislation, it would be “prohibited for an individual or entity in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada to accept or agree to accept money or other valuable consideration, including by gift, donation, or bequest or legacy, knowing that it is from a foreign state, entity or individual referred to in subsection (1) of the bill and intending that it be used, or knowing that it will be used, in whole or in part, to fund activities of an institution” in support of radicalization and extremism.
This legislation gives the government the power to act swiftly, with a full review and appeal process. This bill deals with the covert means by which money is paid to Canadian organizations and institutions that support radicalization.
The legislation gives the government the power to move swiftly, with a full review and appeal process, to address foreign funding trouble spots. We know that Canadians take the prevention of radicalization, the eradication of extremism, and the safety of our country seriously. It is something that Conservatives also take seriously, and our national security must be the number one priority of any government.
There are other strong voices calling for policy to close this gap. Security experts, and anti-radicalization advocates, including those in the Muslim community, have called for controls on incoming funds that support radicalization and extremism. Richard Fadden, the former national security advisor to former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former director of CSIS, has confirmed that there are concerns about foreign financing of Canadian religious and quasi-religious institutions.
He stated the following during testimony to the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence:
I think it is a problem. I think it's one that we're becoming increasingly aware of. It's one that we share with a number of our other Western allies and, insofar as I've been able to make out, nobody has found a systemic solution. What I think has occurred on a number of cases, you can find out about a specific case and you can do something about it; the problem is finding out about the specific case.
Calgary Imam, Syed Soharwardy, as well as other witnesses, advised the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence that extremist jihadist ideology is being spread at schools and universities in this country, often under the guise of academic freedom and away from the eyes of CSIS.
The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, based out of Toronto, supports my bill, calling it a very important and urgent step towards stemming the tide of radicalization that has infiltrated our communities and put our youth at risk.
In her testimony to the subcommittee on national security at the U.S. Congress on July 27, on homegrown terrorism, Raheel Raza, president of the council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, stated the importance of preventing funding of U.S. educational institutions and mosques by foreign extremists. She said this applies to Canada as well, to keep our country safe.
En 2015, the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and National Defence produced a report entitled, “Countering the Terrorist Threat in Canada”. In its recommendations, the committee urged the government to prevent foreign funds from entering Canada, where such funds, donors or recipients have been linked to radicalization.
I would also like to note that there have been questions on whether the bill could cross over to implicate our key allies. However, there is a provision set out in the legislation that would not allow any countries with which Canada has extradition agreements to be included in the schedule. This, of course, includes our key allies including the U.S., France, Germany, and Israel.
This legislation actually lines up with actions already taken by some of our allies.
In 2007 the Australian government became one of the first to act on this issue when it intervened to reject a Saudi request to transfer funds to the Islamic Society of South Australia. This move was specifically taken amidst concerns about foreign-funded lslamist extremism.
Norway and Austria have taken similar actions. Germany and the U.S. have also studied the situation intensely, and in 2016 a similar bill was brought to the floor of the U.S. Congress.
In January 2016, then U.K. prime minister David Cameron did acknowledge that there is a problem of Saudi-funded education programs in the U.K. that may be responsible for promoting lslamist extremism.
Canada and her allies must be ever vigilant when it comes to monitoring radicalization extremism in our country. The recent news of returning ISIS fighters to Canada brings the point home again, that government must have adequate and efficient tools at its disposal to prevent radicalization in the first place. I propose that my legislation would provide another tool in the arsenal to achieve exactly this goal.
Again, I encourage my colleagues to give thoughtful consideration to this legislation and feel free to discuss any of its details with me.