Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security Tuesday, March 10, 2015 Chair

Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security Tuesday, March 10, 2015 Chair
Standing Committee on Public Safety and
National Security
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Mr. Daryl Kramp
Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
● (0850)
The Chair (Mr. Daryl Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings,
CPC)): We will call this meeting to order.
I would ask the media present to slip out now with the cameras.
Thank you very much.
Welcome, colleagues, to meeting number 53 of the Standing
Committee on Public Safety and National Security.
Today, under the orders of the day and pursuant to the order of
reference of Monday, February 23, 2015, we are looking at Bill
C-51, an act to enact the security of Canada information sharing act
and the secure air travel act, to amend the Criminal Code, the
Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and
Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential
amendments to other acts.
Appearing as witnesses today, we have the Honourable Steven
Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and
the Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of Justice and
Attorney General of Canada.
We have from the Department of Justice, William F. Pentney,
deputy minister of justice and deputy attorney general of Canada,
and Donald K. Piragoff, senior assistant deputy minister, policy
We also have from the Department of Public Safety and
Emergency Preparedness, François Guimont, deputy minister. From
the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, we have Michel
Coulombe, director. From the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, we
have Bob Paulson, commissioner.
On a point of order, Mr. Garrison.
Mr. Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, NDP): Mr.
Chair, I appreciate the officials who are here, but we seem to be
missing one official this morning, and that's the Privacy Commissioner, who is an officer of Parliament. I would ask for unanimous
consent of the committee to move the following motion: That the
clerk be directed to schedule one additional one-hour meeting of this
committee to allow the Privacy Commissioner, Daniel Therrien, to
appear before the committee.
The Chair: It is a point of order, sir, and you have the floor, but
you generally cannot move a motion while you have the floor on a
point of order.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Mr. Chair, I think I could do so with the
unanimous consent of the committee, so once again, I'll ask for
unanimous consent of the committee to move the motion.
The Chair: Mr. Garrison has asked for unanimous consent. I'm
looking around the room. Does Mr. Garrison have unanimous
consent to move the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Chair: We will now go to our witnesses. We will have our
ministers speak briefly, which will give us an opportunity to discuss
the bill.
We will start off with Mr. Blaney.
Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness): Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I will be giving my presentation in both official languages. I invite
my colleagues to use the excellent service provided by our
interpreters if they wish to do so.
The Chair: Mr. Easter, on a point of order.
Hon. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.): Mr. Chair, I am coming
back to a point of order that I've raised a number of times.
Commissioner Paulson was before this committee and he brought
written text with him. The ministers have the full staff of all the
departments. There is no reason in the world why, for an important
bill like this, the ministers cannot provide this committee with their
written remarks in both official languages. I see no reason why they
cannot do it. I think it's unacceptable.
The Chair: Ms. Ablonczy.
Hon. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, CPC): Mr. Chair,
Mr. Easter was a minister of the crown. Mr. Easter appeared before
committee in that capacity five times, once before a Senate
committee. I believe the record will show that not once did he
provide a written statement to committee. He's completely without
credibility in raising this and I just wish he would stop it.
The Chair: Thank you very much. The points have been made by
both sides. The chair considers them argumentative and at this point
we're not going to discuss it further.
Mr. Blaney, you have the floor again.
Hon. Steven Blaney: Mr. Chair, as you know, I am very proud to
speak French, which is my mother tongue. I will be pleased to do
part of my speech in English.
I am happy to be here this morning to set the record straight on
certain points. I am very proud to be here with my colleague and
friend, the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and
Attorney General of Canada, whom I respect deeply. We prepared
this bill with him. We are proud to be here to protect the rights of
Let me first address the video produced by the criminal who
attacked this very Parliament building and murdered Corporal
Nathan Cirillo, which you viewed this past Friday.
The Petit Larousse definition is clear and it is used by
Commissioner Paulson, the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, or
even President François Hollande, who described the act committed
here as “terrorist-inspired”. It was an act of violence, a dramatic
gesture driven by ideology.
Clearly, every time I appear here, I remember that I was here that
day with Minister MacKay and several colleagues from the
government caucus. We were witnesses to and victims of this
attack. I had the opportunity to meet with all the members of the
committee to tell them that we must remain vigilant and confident,
and to take the necessary measures, while protecting the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms and privacy to effectively fight the
evolving terrorist threat. This is my primary duty as Minister of
Public Safety.
That is why I am here today with Minister MacKay to present
Bill C-51. This bill includes measures to combat terrorism and will
provide additional tools to our law enforcement agencies, intelligence services and organizations that follow up on and oversee our
intelligence services.
● (0855)
Our anti-terrorism act, Bill C-51, is ensuring a better protection of
our rights and freedoms. This bill brings more tools for law
enforcement and security agencies to tackle radicalization and track
terrorists, and dramatically increases judicial oversight and review
mechanisms to protect our rights and freedoms and the privacy of all
Mr. Chair, the reality is that the international jihadist movement
has declared war on Canada and most countries around the world.
Canada and Canadians are being targeted by jihadist terrorists simply
because these terrorists hate our society and hate our values. This is
why our government has put forward measures that protect
Canadians against jihadist terrorists who seek to destroy the very
principles that make Canada the best country in the world in which
to live.
That is also why Canada is not sitting on the sidelines, as some
would have us do, and is instead joining our allies in supporting the
March 10, 2015
international coalition in the fight against the evil ISIL, the terrorist
organization Islamic State.
We saw it in Saint-Jean and even here in Ottawa. We also saw it in
Paris, in Sydney, Australia, and in Copenhagen. The threat is
complex and diffuse. It is our duty to take action to protect
Canadians while protecting our rights and freedoms.
Violent international extremist groups, like the Islamic state and
Al-Qaeda and its branches, represent a serious threat for Canada.
That is why we must adapt and strengthen our capacity to protect our
country and its people.
Because there is no liberty without security.
In order for freedom to flourish, security is crucial.
These principles protecting security while maintaining liberty are
at the heart of our Conservative government's approach to national
security. Canadians expect that if one branch of government is aware
of a threat to their security, then this information would be shared
with other branches of government to protect Canadians, not new
information, but existing collected information. The security of
Canada information sharing act, the first part of Bill C-51, is a
response to the Air India commission and to many other requests.
Mr. Chair, we are doing it to better protect Canadians. The
legislation has adequate safeguards built in to protect the privacy
of Canadians. We are not interested in giving privileges to the rights
of terrorists over the rights of Canadians.
As we have heard, this piece of legislation will give the legal
capacity to all the government departments and agencies to share
information on activities that undermine the security of Canada, in a
proactive manner or in response to requests from designated federal
institutions with a mandate or responsibilities related to national
security. The people in my riding are asking me why we have not
done this until now.
By definition, under the new legislation, an activity that undermines the security of Canada means any activity that undermines the
sovereignty, the territorial integrity of Canada, or the lives and the
security of the people of Canada. Many observers have commented
on this definition. This morning, I would like to point out that it
refers strictly to the sharing of already existing information between
federal agencies and organizations. Clearly, it does not relate to the
mandate of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
The second measure proposed by the bill has to do with the Secure
Air Travel Act. This legislation would provide a legal framework to
define the ministerial powers under the passenger protect program
and to broaden the mandate of this program in order to identify,
enumerate and mitigate threats posed by two categories of
March 10, 2015
The first category, which includes those suspected of posing a
threat to transportation security, is already in place. The second
category has not been set up yet. Yet our need for it is great. Those
who try to go abroad in order to support terrorist activities are not
covered by the legislation. Right now, we cannot prevent them from
getting on a plane even though we have reasons to believe that their
intent in so doing is to commit a terrorist act.
Once again, Mr. Chair, it is quite clear.
● (0900)
This would put an additional tool in the tool box for our national
security agencies when they are combatting the threat of individuals
travelling abroad to engage in criminal activities. The act would
authorize the Canada Border Services Agency to collect information
related to air travellers coming to or living in Canada and to screen
them against the list. Having Government of Canada law enforcement officials rather than airline workers screen passengers against
the list would better protect the security and privacy of Canadians.
The bill will also enable individuals on the list who have been
prevented from travelling under the program to make a request to be
withdrawn from the list. The bill provides for an appeal mechanism.
In fact, any person on the list could appeal to the Federal Court.
The third measure we are proposing will provide the Canadian
Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) with a new mandate to reduce
threats to the security of Canada. It's about time.
Currently CSIS can detect security threats but is unable to take
action unlike most allies are doing. With the new threat disruption
mandate, CSIS would be authorized to take direct action to disrupt
threats to the security of Canada at home and abroad like most of our
allies, such as Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, France, United
States, United Kingdom, and Australia. It's about time, Mr. Chair.
For instance, CSIS could interfere with terrorists' travel plans or
financial transactions, and even intercept weapons to prevent
terrorist use.
It is important to note that this mandate is tied to the existing
definition of “threats to the security of Canada” that can be found in
section 2 of the CSIS Act. This definition has been in place for 30
years and has formed the basis for CSIS' primary intelligence
collection mandate since its inception and would be applied the same
to the threat disruption mandate.
With this new mandate, Bill C-51 sets rigorous limits and
establishes a warrant mechanism for threat disruption. To my
knowledge, we are the only country in the world to add this judicial
oversight to the threat reduction mechanism. If the measures
proposed might contravene a right guaranteed by the charter or
another Canadian law, a Federal Court judge would have to
authorize them in advance.
Bill C-51 also sets out new review requirements for the Security
Intelligence Review Committee. We are giving this review
committee the legal mandate to oversee CSIS' activities in order to
increase responsibility, transparency and respect for the rights of
Finally, the fourth proposed measure seeks to amend division 9 of
the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This would allow the
government to use and protect classified information as part of
immigration procedures, including security certificate cases before
the Federal Court and applications for non-disclosure before the
Immigration and Refugee Board. Those amendments would ensure
the rigorous protection of classified information and would ensure
that the proceedings are fair. That would also enable us to ensure that
the discretion of the judge is retained in this case and that the special
advocate or amicus curiae role is retained in order to protect the
interests of non-citizens at in camera meetings.
● (0905)
Before I conclude my remarks today and hand the microphone to
my honourable colleague, I would like to address three key
misconceptions that have been put forward by members of the
opposition, as well as so-called experts.
The leader of the NDP has alleged that the legislation before us
today means that legitimate dissent and protests would now be
considered threats to Canadian security. These allegations are
completely false, and frankly, ridiculous. Section 2 of the CSIS
Act, which outlines exactly what is considered a threat to the security
of Canada, is not being amended in any way by the new antiterrorism legislation...again, sharing of information, threat disruption.
Mr. Chair, we reject the argument that every time we talk about
security our freedoms are threatened. Indeed, we believe the
opposite. Canadians understand that their freedom and security go
hand in hand. The fundamental fact is that our police and national
security agencies are working to protect our rights and our freedoms
and it is the jihadi terrorists who endanger our security and who
would take away our freedoms.
Further, the leader of the NDP made allegations that I feel as
Minister of Public Safety are unacceptable, because he said that
CSIS, the security intelligence, has broken the law. This is an insult
to the men and women who are protecting Canadians on a daily
basis, who are risking their lives in unsafe places, Mr. Chairman. For
30 years there has been the report of the Security Intelligence
Review Committee, which has always provided the certificate
demonstrating that they complied with our Canadian law. I ask the
member to bring coherent arguments, but not insult those who are
protecting us. I ask him to apologize and to keep the debate among
politicians focused on facts, truth, and reality.
Furthermore, some commentators have said that the scope of the
definition of “activity that undermines the security of Canada” is too
broad, and that the language used is too vague for security
legislation. Well, this definition should not be read in isolation.
Proposed section 5 of the security of Canada information sharing act
further restricts what information can be shared by requiring that
information be shared only if it is relevant to the national security
jurisdiction or responsibility of the recipient. The definition was
intended to cover any information that is relevant to the security of
I'm glad we have here the leader of the Green Party, who has said
that the provisions to protect lawful advocacy, protest, and dissent do
not go far enough. I would invite the member to further read the
legislation carefully. The act clearly states that the definition of
“activity that undermines the security of Canada” does not include
lawful advocacy, protest, dissent, or artistic expression.
It should be noted that the carve-out is for greater certainty, and is
intended to reflect the fact that these activities are not intended to be
captured by this legislation. Once again, Mr. Chair, the information
that is to be captured by this legislation, solely for sharing purposes,
with no new information, has to undermine the security of Canada.
“Lawful” is intended to be read narrowly and to exclude legitimate
forms of protest that are not contrary to the Criminal Code. In other
words, not having a municipal permit for a protest would not lead to
an otherwise lawful protest being captured by this legislation.
Similarly, some have said that allowing CSIS to disrupt threats to
national security would trample on the rights of legitimate protestors.
Once again this is untrue, inaccurate and false. Under the legislation
before us today, the threshold for CSIS to engage in disruption is
reached if there are reasonable grounds to believe that a particular
activity constitutes a threat to the security of Canada. This is the
same definition that has been used for the last 30 years. Previously,
CSIS did not have disruption powers, allowing them only to collect
and retain information to the extent that is strictly necessary.
Security is essential to maintaining our democratic rights and
freedoms, and the anti-terrorism act seeks to do exactly that. I hope
that all members will support this legislation, with the trust and
confidence that we are taking the appropriate measures to protect
Canadians and our freedoms and rights.
Personally, Mr. Chair, I believe that if we were to stand still and
not do anything to face this evolving threat, it would be morally
irresponsible and immoral. It is our duty to avoid losing human lives
because of bureaucratic silos. We can fix this. Canadians would be
unforgiving should we fail to fix this dysfunctional information
sharing system. We are probably one of the few countries that is not
doing so. Better protecting the rights and freedoms of Canadians
while tackling the threat of terrorism is exactly what Bill C-51 is
accomplishing. To do so, we have worked in close conjunction with
the Minister of Justice and his department, and I am pleased to let
him make his remarks.
March 10, 2015
Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of Justice and Attorney General
of Canada): Mr. Chair and colleagues, it's an honour to be here
before you. I thank you for your important work. I am honoured to
be here with my colleague, Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney
and officials from both of our departments, Public Safety and Justice.
As you know, we're here to discuss Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism
act. This bill concentrates on the very real subject matter of
terrorism, which is an increased global concern. The Government of
Canada is taking steps, and you are taking steps, to examine the tools
necessary and available to our intelligence and law enforcement
agencies to respond effectively to this threat.
This bill represents the outcome that is crucially important in this
assessment. I'm going to focus my remarks, as Minister Blaney has
said, on the Criminal Code amendments found in part 3 of the bill.
Since 2001, the Criminal Code has helped us combat terrorism
specifically, especially in terms of offences related to various forms
of participation in and facilitation of a terrorist activity and in terms
of charging a person for engaging in such an activity. Those
measures were reinforced in 2013 with the addition of new offences
related to the movements of terrorists and nuclear terrorism.
Mr. Chair, the threat environment in Canada we know is global
and volatile and consistently evolving. Accordingly, this investigative package of enforcement tools available to the criminal justice
system should be commensurate to detect, stop, and prosecute those
responsible. Of course, the Criminal Code reforms that are found in
Bill C-51 do just that. It is an effort to modernize, to keep pace. As
Minister Blaney has said, this is about giving law enforcement the
ability to meet this evolving threat, and to put them in a position to
detect, deter, and prevent the type of terrorism that we see and sadly
expect in the 21st century.
Thank you.
● (0910)
The Chair: Thank you, Minister Blaney.
We will now go to opening remarks from Minister MacKay.
I'll speak now to those parts of the bill that fall directly under the
purview of the Department of Justice.
March 10, 2015
First, section 83.3 of the Criminal Code, which targets individuals
who may be involved in a terrorism activity either directly or
indirectly, currently requires two tests to be met for a court to impose
a recognizance against an individual. This bill proposes to lower the
threshold of both these tests, from requiring police to have
reasonable grounds to believe that a terrorist activity “will—with
emphasis on “will”—be carried out”, to “may be carried out”—
imminent, to possible—and from reasonable grounds to suspect that
conditions are necessary to prevent the carrying out of terrorism
activity, to “likely to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist
specific terrorism offence, although in the circumstances it is clear
that someone is actively encouraging to commit any of the terrorism
offences in the Criminal Code. In other words, it would not matter
whether a specific terrorism offence is advocated or promoted for
criminal liability to attach. To be clear, this is not a glorification of
terrorism offence.
Lowering the threshold seeks to make it easier to obtain the
recognizance, for police to do so and then appear before a judge. It's
important to emphasize the judicial oversight component of this.
Related to this new offence is the proposal to create two new
warrants of seizure in relation to terrorist propaganda. One is for
terrorist propaganda in a tangible form such as a poster or a flyer,
and the other is for removing terrorist propaganda disseminated and
stored in a website located in Canada.
Bill C-51 would also increase the maximum period of time that a
judge can remand an individual awaiting a recognizance hearing
from a total of two days to six days, with the 24-hour police
detention period remaining the same. In other words, it would
expand that period of time in which investigations can occur and
certain conditions can be in place to protect the public, so up to
seven days.
This bill also proposes to strengthen the existing terrorism peace
bond in the Criminal Code. The bill proposes to lower the threshold
from the current requirement that a person must fear on reasonable
grounds that someone “will” commit a terrorism offence, to fear that
they “may” commit a terrorism offence. This change seeks to make it
easier to obtain the peace bond. There is a scale here. We are
lowering the threshold to allow the police, with judicial oversight, to
put in place conditions to protect the public based on evidence. It
would also extend the maximum duration of the peace bond from
two to five years for those previously convicted of a terrorism
Furthermore, for both recognizance with conditions and peace
bonds, the court would be authorized to impose sureties and to
require judges to consider geographical conditions and passport
surrender, so behavioural controls, if you will. The penalties for
breaches of these court orders would also be increased from the
current two years maximum to four years.
● (0915)
Bill C-51 would also propose to amend the Criminal Code to
create a new indictable offence for knowingly advocating or
promoting the commission of terrorism offences in general. The
offence would require that the person either know that any of those
offences will be committed or be reckless as to whether any of those
offences may be committed as a result of that communication. This
new offence would be punishable with up to five years' imprisonment. The new offence would fill what we believe to be a current
gap in the law and would respond to a current threat that exists.
Currently it's a crime to counsel someone to commit a specific
crime like murder. It is not a crime, however, to counsel somebody to
commit a broad category of criminal activity like terrorism, one
lacking specific detail as to which offence is being encouraged to be
committed. Therefore, the focus of the proposed new offence is to
cover the situation where the active encouragement lacks the specific
detail that would link the encouragement to the commission of a
Obviously, we work within our own jurisdiction. This does not
afford us the ability to capture this material from outside the country.
Similar powers already exist for other materials that Parliament
has determined to be harmful, including hate propaganda and child
pornography. It mirrors Criminal Code sections already in existence
Most parents, I think, would know we are doing this in the best
interest of removing material that could be used to radicalize or
recruit a young person. In fact, in talking to people about this
particular section of the Criminal Code, some were alarmed to know
that we don't already have the ability to remove this offensive
Finally, changes are proposed to better protect those involved in
national security prosecutions and proceedings. Among other things,
these changes would provide better discretion of the courts to make
orders that reflect the security needs of witnesses. In particular, we're
talking about participants in the justice system who might find
themselves vulnerable as a result of the individuals we are dealing
with. This is not unlike what we've seen in prosecutions of gangs or
organized crime. It takes into account their role in relation to national
security matters while at all times respecting the fair trial rights of the
These legislative proposals and those of my colleague Minister
Blaney are reasonable and are a proportionate response to the threat
of terrorism in Canada. They contain a number of safeguards,
including judicial oversight and discretion for the many tools we
have discussed and presented here this morning, the requirement to
obtain Attorney General consent before proceedings, and annual
reporting requirements on the use of recognizance with conditions.
These are tabled in Parliament, as I did recently in December. Also,
these peace bond and recognizance conditions are subject to
sunsetting; that is to say that the law, when it came into effect in
2007, will be reviewed with respect to those recognizance and peace
bond conditions in 2017.
In providing these new, enhanced and judicially approved
measures which respond to terrorism at home and abroad, we
believe we are doing so within the existing and overarching legal
framework that respects the charter and includes important checks
and balances.
To conclude, from a criminal justice perspective, this bill will
address gaps in the law, only target extremely serious conduct, and
clearly define offence elements in a high level of mens rea.
Mr. Chair, I would just end with a quote from the Queen and
Khawaja, which is an Ontario Court of Appeal case where, writing
for the majority, Mr. Justice Moldaver, as he then was, said:
To be sure, terrorism is a crime unto itself. It has no equal. It does not stop at, nor
is it limited to, the senseless destruction of people and property. It is far more
insidious in that it attacks our very way of life and seeks to destroy the
fundamental values to which we ascribe – values that form the essence of our
constitutional democracy.
● (0920)
Mr. Chair, I thank you for your important deliberations on this
legislation. We look forward to the committee's questions. Again,
we're very appreciative of the work that you're undertaking.
Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Minister MacKay.
Colleagues, we will now go to our rounds of questioning with a
first round of seven minutes. We will start with the parliamentary
secretary, Mrs. James.
Ms. Roxanne James (Scarborough Centre, CPC): Thank you,
Ministers, for appearing, and thank you as well to the officials who
are here.
Canadians would expect, Minister Blaney, when one branch of
government comes across information pertinent to national security
and the protection of Canadians, that agency would be able to
communicate that information freely to another agency, such as the
RCMP or CSIS. However, that is clearly not the case today. I have to
tell you that I was probably one of those Canadians who thought this
was already being done, so with regard to information sharing, I find
this legislation to be absolutely critical.
Minister Blaney and Minister MacKay, in your opening remarks,
both of you talked about identifying gaps that were brought forward
by our national security agencies.
March 10, 2015
Minister Blaney, could you expand on some of these gaps,
focusing on information sharing, and why this part of the legislation
is so important?
Hon. Steven Blaney: Maybe I could begin with two examples of
what is the current situation now.
As we heard recently, in Montreal two young girls allegedly said
that they left the country to commit terrorist attacks abroad. They
showed up at the passport office and they asked for an accelerated
process within 48 hours. They said that they had lost their passports.
They said that they wanted to go to the Middle East, to a region, as
you are well aware, where there are many conflicts. This information
should raise some concerns in terms of national security. Canada is
not and does not want to become an exporter of terrorism. As we
speak, this information cannot be shared with relevant authorities
such as the RCMP or the security agency, CSIS. This bill would
enact the department to undertake this kind of action.
The other example is on the other side. Take a wounded person
who goes to a consulate in the Middle East, is willing to come back,
and is seeking some information. Being obviously wounded or
having spent some weeks out there in the desert, this may raise some
reasonable doubts, but again, this information may not be shared
with the police officers or the Canada Border Services Agency, nor
with our intelligence. An individual, a potential high-terrorist
traveller who has had combat experience, could come back into
our country, and we could hardly prevent it.
These two examples demonstrate clearly the need to make sure
that the left hand of government knows what the right hand is doing,
but in doing so, let me assure you that there are many mechanisms to
protect privacy and also the Constitution.
First, I think I've stated clearly that it has to be information that
would undermine the security of Canada. Before the information is
transferred, there has to be a risk, and it has to be transferred to an
organization that is relevant. Again, this is not new information. This
is information that is already being collected by the government but
is not being shared.
Are we to let silos be used by terrorists to harm Canadians?
Frankly, I think this is totally irresponsible. That's why when I speak
to people in my riding or elsewhere, people are asking me why we
have not done this before and why we are not sharing the
information in a respectful and lawful process.
Well, this is what we do. Also, it is important to specify—and it's
in the bill—that the information has to be done in respect of the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and also the protection of
privacy. This is actually in the enactment of the act. We already have
much legislation, but we felt it was important to specify this in the
I can comment further, but I think you want to ask more questions.
March 10, 2015
● (0925)
Ms. Roxanne James: There has been some concern from the
opposition and from the Green Party with respect to a proposed
section in the information sharing act that clearly states that the
information sharing would not relate to lawful advocacy, protest,
dissent, and artistic expression. The concern seems to be surrounding
the word “lawful”.
I just have to ask a very simple question. How bizarre would it be
for a government to legislate this type of bill and include the ability
for unlawful advocacy? I have to ask that question because
obviously, between “lawful” and “unlawful” there is a big difference.
Hon. Steven Blaney: Thank you for the opportunity you are
giving me to clarify what is in the bill and what is not.
Once again, there is the security of Canada information sharing
act, whereby information that could undermine the security of
Canada could be transferred. This has nothing to do with the other
parts of the act, such as the threat diminishment part, which relies on
the current definition of terrorist activities. It has no impact at all on
this aspect. The only thing the legislator is doing in crafting this bill
is mandating that any information that could undermine the security
of Canada has to be sent to the recipient institution.
Of course, there is another safeguard here, because if the
information is received, it has to be relevant to that specific
department. That is another safeguard, if I can put it that way.
Once again, to get back to your definition, there are lawful
activities and there are unlawful activities. This morning I gave the
example of a protest that did not have a municipal permit. That is
not, I would argue, included in this bill, which deals with
undermining the security of Canada. Once again, it could be an
illegal activity, but the information would not necessarily be shared,
because it does not undermine the security of Canada.
I think we clearly see this morning that there are lawful activities,
that there could be illegal activity that does not undermine the
security of Canada, and that there are those activities that we feel are
important to share or to specify in the bill. There are some examples
in the bill, such as espionage, sabotage—
The Chair: Minister Blaney, we'll have to cut you off. You'll have
an opportunity to go further a little later, but we're over the time.
We'll go now to Mr. Garrison, for seven minutes, please.
● (0930)
Mr. Randall Garrison: Thanks to all the witnesses who are here
today. I know for the Minister of Justice it's relatively rare to appear
in this committee, so I give particular thanks to him for being here
today. I want to start with a question for him.
he must have received advice from his officials on the constitutionality of this bill and its provisions.
Would the minister be prepared to table the advice he received on
the constitutionality of this bill? It would be very useful for this
committee, to avoid further legal entanglements down the road, if we
could have that advice tabled for us so that we could use it before we
reach the amendment stage of this bill.
Hon. Peter MacKay: Thank you very much for the question, Mr.
Colleagues, while it may be rare that I appear before this
committee, this is my 52nd appearance before a committee as a
The member is absolutely right in suggesting that we would not
have introduced a bill, and certainly from a justice perspective no bill
is introduced in Parliament unless it has been drafted and presented
to Parliament in a way that is consistent with the charter and the
Constitution. Every bill receives that vetting, that lens, from the
Department of Justice prior to its introduction. Officials with the
Department of Justice, of course, have expertise in that area. In fact,
some members of our department go back to the drafting of the
charter itself. We have tremendous legal advice, which is available to
all departments. So, yes, the member is correct. I would have met
with and worked with my department to ensure charter compliance.
The Supreme Court of Canada, of course, has recognized that the
prevention of terrorist acts is a valid state objective given the grave
damage that can result, and that was the quote I presented to you at
the close of my remarks. This is not to say that legislation—all
legislation—presented to this committee or any committee is not
subject to charter challenge. We anticipate and look at various
aspects, including privacy, to come back to the member's question,
and we do so to ensure that ultimately the courts will pronounce
favourably on the charter compliance. With regard to presenting that
advice to this committee or any committee, I'm not able to do so as
the Minister of Justice and Attorney General as solicitor-client
privilege exists between the Department of Justice and the
Department of Public Safety in this case.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Of course, as the beneficiary of that
solicitor-client privilege, you could waive that and table it before this
There has a been a lot of public concern expressed by legal
experts, including former judges, about the broad nature of the new
offence in the Criminal Code, about the lower threshold for detention
and peace bonds, and about fundamental changes to information
sharing that might affect privacy rights.
Hon. Peter MacKay: We're not going to do that, and of course
the privilege rests not solely with me but with the entire government.
My assumption is that the minister would not bring this legislation
before Parliament if he did not believe it was constitutional and that
Mr. Randall Garrison: Thank you very much. I still believe we
would benefit from having that information before us.
I want to turn to Mr. Blaney, who said he would welcome the
opportunity to clarify things today. I have two questions about the
new powers given to CSIS in this bill. The minister has said many
times in public and in the House that the new disruptive powers of
CSIS would require a warrant from a judge. I would like him to
clarify, because according to my reading of the bill, as well as that of
many others, it does not say that. It says that disruptive activities
may be conducted and will require a warrant only in certain
circumstances. I'd like him to clarify that part.
The second thing he said was that very often this amounts to
judicial oversight. Since the warrant being sought is for activities
conducted in secret and not for those leading to a criminal charge,
how will the judge ever see what happened with that warrant again?
How would that warrant ever end up back before the courts so they
could exercise oversight? I don't see any provision there, once the
warrant is granted, that would allow a judge to examine what had
happened with that warrant.
I have to say, just briefly, that when Mr. Blaney says that the NDP
is attacking police and CSIS members, we're not. We're saying that
occasionally agencies make errors and they end up before the courts.
We have the Mosley case, which clearly said that CSIS had, in some
cases, made errors that constituted a violation of the law.
My question is very specific. Does disruptive activity always
require a warrant, and how will that warrant ever get back in front of
a judge?
● (0935)
Hon. Steven Blaney: Thank you for your question. You certainly
heard me again this morning clearly say that a warrant is required
every time there is a legal consideration. I'll just refer to what I said
earlier this morning.
My remarks were as follows: “With this new mandate, Bill C-51
sets rigorous limits and establishes a warrant mechanism...If the
measures proposed might contravene a right guaranteed by the
charter or another Canadian law, a Federal Court judge would have
to authorize them in advance.”
Simply put, a warrant is indeed required under Bill C-51 every
time the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is concerned.
I hope I provided a clear answer to your first question.
Mr. Randall Garrison: No, you haven't clarified that because
you just proved my point. You said it's required only if there's going
to be breaking of the law of the charter. Other disruptive activities
then are clearly authorized without a warrant.
Hon. Steven Blaney: Yes, dear colleague, some activities will not
require a warrant. However, threat reduction activities must follow a
rigorous process depending on their impact. As the Minister of
Public Safety, I will be able to—just like my successors—authorize
warrants at some point. To do so, I will rely on the opinion of the
Department of Public Safety.
March 10, 2015
Let me give you an example of a case where a warrant would not
be required. For instance, CSIS officers could engage in conversation with the parents of a child who is being radicalized. In that case,
a warrant would not be required.
The Chair: Thank you very much. The time is up.
We will go to Mr. Norlock, please, sir.
Mr. Rick Norlock (Northumberland—Quinte West, CPC):
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and through you, to the witnesses,
thank you for appearing today.
My first question will be for Minister MacKay.
Could you explain the gap in the legislation you're trying to fill?
I'm referring mainly to the promotion and takedown thresholds with
regard to Internet sites. We've heard some folks say that this portion
of the legislation is an attack on our freedom of speech. I don't
believe it is. I do not believe that promoting the commission of
terrorist acts is acceptable.
Could you explain the legislation and how it is different from the
current hate speech laws that are focused on certain groups?
Hon. Peter MacKay: Thank you very much for the question, Mr.
As you'll be aware, there are current sections of the Criminal
Code, and you've alluded to them, where certain types of material,
certain statements, and certain speech are deemed to run up against
other charter rights. What we're attempting to do here, through the
criminal law, is to balance out those freedom of speech and privacy
provisions versus material, words, that can be in fact very harmful.
The examples of hate propaganda advocating genocide and of course
the area of child pornography, pornography, are well understood.
With respect to the advocating for or the promotion of terrorism,
we believe that the current Criminal Code as drafted is insufficient in
allowing us to protect the public from the very real and I would say
corrosive effects of terrorism and the promotion of same. What we
are doing through this legislation is enabling our criminal justice
system to respond appropriately to ensure that that material, when
deemed to fall into that category, is subject to removal. To meet that
test, we know that there is a requirement to make application before
a judge to weigh that material appropriately against other rights, and
then make a determination. The wording is drafted in a way that any
offences that would be laid, any charges that would be laid, take into
consideration things such as recklessness, which is another legal
standard to be applied, and the proposed offence is not focused, as I
said in my remarks, on what has been somewhat controversial in
other countries, and that is the subject of glorification.
March 10, 2015
The standard to be applied here is the promotion or the advocacy,
the encouraging, the efforts to actually draw a person into
committing acts of terrorism. These terms of “advocate” or
“promote”, some have said are quite vague. There was case law in
this area already. There was existing jurisprudence that is instructive
in that regard. There are a number of Canadian cases that I could cite
for you. Keegstra in 1990 is a well-known Supreme Court case that
goes into the area of promotion and speaks of active support or
instigation. A 2001 Supreme Court case of the Queen and Sharpe,
involving possession of child pornography talks about advocating.
This bill, Bill C-51, reflects the Supreme Court's definition that
already exists when it comes to terms such as “advocacy” and
“promotion” for offences. It's the idea of counselling or inciting and
that material then to be viewed leads to that type of encouraging or
incitement of terrorism.
● (0940)
Mr. Rick Norlock: Thank you very much.
My next question will be for Minister Blaney.
The Chair: Mr. Blaney wished to comment on that, I believe.
Hon. Steven Blaney: Mr. Norlock, I want to salute the measures
that Minister MacKay just explained, because as you know, our
government has tabled a counterterrorism strategy that has four
pillars: prevent, detect, deny, and respond.
The fact is that as a government, as a society, we will be able to
shut down those websites that are promoting hatred and violence. It's
a tool helping us with the first pillar dealing with the prevention of
radicalization, because as we know, and we've heard it, the
Holocaust did not begin in the gas chamber; it began with words,
so we have to be careful. That's why I feel this measure is so
information. Once the act took place, of course, everybody was
happy to share information and the information was flowing rather
well. I think that, hopefully, clarifies.
The Chair: Mr. Easter.
Hon. Wayne Easter: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you,
Ministers and officials, for coming.
Minister Blaney, before I get to the more substantive issue, I have
a minor but important issue. You mentioned the appeals process for
the no-fly list. Most of us as members of Parliament have had some
experience with trying to get people off the no-fly list. You talked
about the appeals.
In the legislation, it says, “If the Minister does not make a decision
in respect of the application within 90 days”—then there's a little
wording—“the Minister is deemed to have decided not to remove the
applicant's name from the list.”
That's really not much of an appeals process, Minister. You do not
even have to respond. I think you need to consider an amendment in
that regard and go the other way, that the minister must respond
within 90 days.
To the more substantive issue, you said in your remarks that you're
dramatically increasing judicial oversight and review. In response to
Mr. Garrison's remarks, you said a warrant is required every time
there's legal authorization. I submit that a judicial submission to
carry out a certain act is not, in any sense of the word, oversight. It's
authorization before the action happens.
I am also committed as the Minister of Public Safety to work with
my partners such as Minister Bernard Cazeneuve of France, and our
European and American partners, so that websites that could be
hosted in another country could also be shut down if they are
promoting hatred, extremist ideology, and violence.
Maybe you could explain that process. Where's the oversight after
the warrant is granted?
I believe this measure in Bill C-51 is helping the four pillars of our
counterterrorism strategy.
Mr. Rick Norlock: For my next question, Commissioner Paulson
can comment. On Friday we heard Commissioner Paulson, who
came before the committee, and we viewed the tape, of course, of the
murderer of Corporal Nathan Cirillo. During the question and
answer period, he indicated that he was able to receive passport
information and that in this particular case the information sharing
was sufficient.
Hon. Steven Blaney: I thank you for your question. Once again, I
think it's another opportunity to clarify oversight versus review.
Could you tell us through which mechanism that would have
occurred and some of the gaps that this legislation closes with regard
to information sharing?
Commr Bob Paulson (Commissioner, Royal Canadian
Mounted Police): Mr. Chair, going back to Friday, I would want
to claim the discussion on that was around Mr. Garrison's suggestion
that the collection of evidence that would have led to this imaginary
charge that I put forward in my comments around had Mr. ZehafBibeau not been killed, we would have charged him, was in the postevent collection of information and not in the real exchange of
● (0945)
We would be, in terms of threat diminishment, the only country
that is involving this warrant issued by a judge when conducting
activities that could have an impact on the rights of Canadians or
their privacy. The fact that the judge is involved.... In the warrant, the
activity that would be conducted will be described. The judge could
even ask for a third party to bring some different views. We are
actually the only country.... All the others are strictly keeping only—
what could I say?—administrative oversight. So this is oversight.
Then, as you know, we have a review mechanism, but once again,
we have a warrant. There's a judge who has to be consulted and who
has to authorize. The judge can also modify the mandate if he has
any concerns. He can refuse or modify. He can ask a third party. He
can also ask for third party reviews.
Hon. Wayne Easter: Minister, that is not oversight, and your
colleague, Minister MacKay, knows that's not oversight.
He and I sat on a committee together. We did a lot of travelling
together. I will admit, Minister MacKay, that at the time you were
probably one of the most enthusiastic people for parliamentary
oversight similar to our Five Eyes partners.
Minister Blaney, you can say that no other country provides the
judicial warrants, but your explanation confirms what I claim, that
it's only authorization to do a, b, c, or d. You also know that Judge
Mosley's decision indicated that CSIS was not quite as upfront with
Judge Mosley as they had indicated, and he corrected them on that.
He came out quite angrily about their having gone further than they
were authorized to do. These things happen. It makes the point that
judicial authorization is not oversight. It's not adequate. Canadians
want to see oversight.
I have to ask Minister MacKay, who sat on that committee with
me in 2004, which ended up with Bill C-81.... We went to the U.K.,
Washington, etc. We called for that. Why were you so supportive
then, Minister? Now you think with all these additional powers for
CSIS, the RCMP, the Criminal Code, etc., that we don't need
oversight in this country for all of our national security agencies. We
need it. We need it more than we ever did before.
Hon. Peter MacKay: Let me begin by stating, Mr. Easter, I well
recall being part of that committee as an opposition member. You, of
course, were a member of the government and didn't take the
opportunity to act on those recommendations.
Hon. Wayne Easter: Yes, we did. We introduced Bill C-81.
Hon. Peter MacKay: In fact, you were in government for, I
believe, 14 years and as a government never enacted those oversight
recommendations that you so enthusiastically embrace today.
Hon. Wayne Easter: In 2004....
March 10, 2015
● (0950)
Hon. Wayne Easter: Former politicians on SIRC, Minister?
Come on; former politicians on SIRC?
The Chair: Mr. Easter, we're over time.
Hon. Wayne Easter: Yes, we need expertise. You have it—
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Ms. Doré Lefebvre, the floor is yours.
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre (Alfred-Pellan, NDP): Thank you
very much, Mr. Chair.
My thanks to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness, the Minister of Justice, as well as all the other
witnesses for being here today to speak to Bill C-51. We greatly
appreciate it.
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of
cure. I went over Bill C-51 and, in my view, the key element that is
missing is a national strategy to counter radicalization. The U.S.
government is working hard with communities to set up an effective
strategy to counter radicalization. The mayor of Montreal has started
to work on a strategy against radicalization with stakeholders on the
ground, including the police services and community leaders.
Hon. Peter MacKay: However, in 2004 you were a member of
the government, so you had a mandate to do something about it, and
you didn't. You failed.
Mr. Blaney or Mr. MacKay, perhaps you can answer my question.
My question is actually more for the Minister of Public Safety and
Emergency Preparedness.
The truth of the matter is, looking at those examples around the
world today, the real oversight comes.... I think you as a former
solicitor general would be quick to agree that the real oversight
comes from those with expertise in the area of security—I think you
would agree with that—those who have had experience in the field,
those who have had legal experience, training, or judicial experience.
Could you tell me what you are actually doing to combat
radicalization? You gave some examples, but could you give me an
overview of what the government is doing in practical terms to
combat radicalization? Are you working with community leaders
and police services? What resources are assigned to that?
I would suggest to you that when you examine some of those
examples, including in the U.K.... I was recently in London, and
you're seeing now their parliamentary oversight committee coming
under a fair degree of criticism, because they've been subject to
political interference, scandal in fact, that has undermined that
parliamentary committee's objectivity, perhaps, and the ability to do
the actual job that was asked of them.
I also note, on the area of expertise, that you, yourself, were
quoted in the paper, in the context of this examination of the bill, as
saying, “We’re not the experts, we’re there to listen and learn”.
I think, on balance, if we want to have true oversight, we need not
only to have a mandate but also to have people in those oversight
positions, such as SIRC, that have the ability to ask the proper
questions, to delve into the detail that's necessary, and are able to
Hon. Steven Blaney: Thank you for your question, which is very
I am a little disappointed that we have not received the support of
your political party. With all due respect, let me say that the New
Democrats are behind with the news. Our strategy to combat
terrorism has been in place for more than two years and we have not
received your party's support. I find it surprising that a New
Democrat is waking up two years later and asking us what we are
doing in terms of prevention.
We must keep working on prevention. Minister MacKay and I are
participating in cross-cultural round tables. It is important to work on
prevention. That is the first pillar of our strategy. When I appeared
before you last fall, before the Ottawa attack, I had the opportunity to
describe our anti-terrorism strategy.
March 10, 2015
Commissioner Paulson is making remarkable efforts. I have a
document here on our strategy to combat youth radicalization. You
can download it from the Internet. The document is more than
20 pages long and was published a while ago. It describes the
strategies we are implementing and the meetings we are holding
across the country with communities and leaders in this area.
Clearly, training is provided to agents and officers. Our prevention
approach has three pillars: commitment to communities, training,
and a counter-narrative message.
I was in Washington a few weeks ago. We are also working with
our British partners, who have taken some very interesting
initiatives, as well as the municipal police forces. Last week, I met
with Toronto police representatives. They have created emergency
response teams to prevent radicalization. We are working on
prevention at all levels of society.
The commissioner can provide you with information on that. I
know that you don't have a lot of time, but the commissioner can
outline what the RCMP is doing to prevent radicalization.
● (0955)
Commr Bob Paulson: Thank you, Mr. Minister.
As I said Friday, our prevention program is quite complex.
Our previous strategies, our terrorism prevention strategies, have
been founded on legitimate community engagement. I spoke of the
counterterrorism information officer program, years old now. We've
trained over 1,800 CTIOs across the country. That's not just in the
RCMP; that's in police forces, partner police agencies. The mandate
of those officers is engagement, information sharing, and training
officers in what to look for in radicalization. It's also community
In the last little while, working with partners at Public Safety and
in other police forces, we've begun to bring our crime prevention
strategy to terrorism prevention—in other words, hubbing the
resources that exist at the local, provincial, and federal levels and
working with those communities to try to understand and identify
early who's at risk—and then bring to bear strategies other than the
criminal justice response in the pre-criminal space. It's proving to be
very effective. In fact, as the minister said about Toronto, we've
piloted it with the Toronto police, and we're working with other
police forces. We're doing it ourselves, and it is paying some
The Chair: Thank you very much, Commissioner and Minister.
Now we will go to Ms. Ablonczy, for five minutes, please.
Hon. Diane Ablonczy: A lot of Canadians will remember the
debate a little over 30 years ago when the Liberal government under
Prime Minister Trudeau brought in the act that created CSIS.
Immediately there were voices of protest and fear raised when CSIS
was created. There were allegations that the creation of this civilian
security agency would be a step toward a police state. Thirty years
ago the naysayers said that...the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said that no Canadian would be safe from being targeted. Thirty
years ago the Ontario government said that CSIS would have
unlimited and unchecked powers, carte blanche, to break every law
in Canada. We know today that there are many activities that
threaten Canadian security that do not fall under the Criminal Code
or under the mandate of the RCMP. We value CSIS and the work it
One example is criticism of the expansion of the passenger protect
program, Minister. The NDP say it is already illegal to travel abroad
to join in terrorist activity. I wonder if you would speak to that and
why you believe the mandate of the passenger protect program needs
to be expanded.
Hon. Steven Blaney: Thank you, Ms. Ablonczy, for your
question. It seems that we are seeing history repeat itself in some
way where some people are bringing a fallacious narrative. That's
why I'm proud to be here to talk about the bill for what it is and not
for what people may think or would like it to be.
It is a very important exercise for this committee to undertake a
review over the course of the next month. As Canadians we expect to
base our conversation on facts and on reality. I am confident that
Canadians understand the goal of the bill, which is to protect the
rights and freedoms of Canadians and their privacy. It provides tools
to those who are there to protect us, as well as provides tools to those
who are watching those who are there to protect us. That is what Bill
C-51 is all about.
There are robust oversight and review mechanisms. I give the
example that we are one of the few countries that will need judicial
oversight for threat diminishment. Once all of these activities have
been conducted there will be a strong review.
Let me tell you what our Security Intelligence Review Committee
said about their work and how they see their work in terms of
reviewing the work that has been accomplished. What they like to
have is distance, so they can have a critical eye on the operation of
the intelligence community. They said that our model of ongoing and
methodological review also has the distinct advantage of allowing
for a full and impartial assessment of our Canadian security
intelligence agency's performance, arguably better positioning it to
detect potential problems earlier.
We have 30 years of independent expertise and knowledge
without political interference and without government interference,
because they are fully independent. They are lawyers and researchers
who bring continuity. Some of them have worked in the intelligence
community. You may have heard the director himself yesterday
saying he was fully staffed to do the important work he has to
To get back to your passenger protect question, it's fairly clear—
● (1000)
The Chair: Very briefly, Minister.
March 10, 2015
The Chair: Thank you very much, Minister.
I'm not sure whether you agree with me this morning, but if a
website hosted in Canada promotes jihadism and tells us to kill all
the infidels wherever they are in the world, I think that flies in the
face of Canadian values. That is why I think we, as politicians, must
continue to adopt measures to combat terrorism and prevent
radicalization. That is exactly why I urge you to support Bill C-51.
That is the right thing to do if we want to protect the rights and
freedoms of Canadians and to protect them from the terrorist threat.
Mr. Garrison for five minutes.
● (1005)
Hon. Steven Blaney: Okay. This act was passed when there was
the attack on the World Trade Center by those who wanted to attack
our safety using the airplane. We need to be able to arrest those
people even though we cannot lay charges. If we have reason to
believe they will conduct a terrorist attack, then we need to be able to
prevent them from travelling. That's why we need to add the highrisk traveller to our no-fly list.
You have the floor.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I have expressed my concerns before about overinflated rhetoric
when it comes to this bill. I heard the minister earlier make a
reference to the Holocaust. I would assert that there is no
equivalence for anything we're talking about here today to the
Holocaust. At best, the reference seems to trivialize the Holocaust.
I'd like to offer the minister an opportunity to withdraw that
Hon. Steven Blaney: I will answer in French.
Violence begins with words. Hatred begins with words. I can
mention the Rwandan genocide, which started on the radio. It was a
horrible genocide. One of our former senators has paid the price, and
his mental health has been greatly affected by it. Yes, it is important
to call it what it is. A spade is a spade. Extremist speeches, the
language that undermines Canadian values, basically hate propaganda has no place in Canada.
It is time for the government to assume its responsibilities and not
tolerate disrespectful, violent and hateful language. That is what the
legislation basically allow us to do. I therefore stand by what I said
and I repeat that the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers. It
began with words. That is why it is clearly important to respect the
rights and freedoms of Canadians, but we must not tolerate
incitement to violence.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Then, Mr. Minister, why did this
government take away the power of the Canadian Human Rights
Commission to remove hate crime material from the Internet? Your
government sponsored and passed a bill through this House and
through the Senate that took away the power of the Human Rights
Commission to order the withdrawal of hate crimes material from the
Internet. Why did you do that then and why are you advocating the
opposite now?
Hon. Steven Blaney: Mr. Garrison, what I am saying this
morning is that the bill will enable us to take down websites that
promote hate propaganda or propaganda related to any form of
terrorism, regardless of its source. There is no place for incitement to
violence in Canada. It's as simple as that. That is what the legislation
Mr. Randall Garrison: Mr. Minister, I'm still having trouble
understanding what the difference is between the powers you took
away from the Human Rights Commission and the powers you're
suggesting today.
Hon. Peter MacKay: Let me just clarify that.
Mr. Garrison, as you know full well, hate promotion, propaganda,
genocide are covered in the Criminal Code of Canada and anyone
engaged in that type of activity is subject to prosecution in Canada.
Let's not leave any impression—I know that's not what you're trying
to do—that somebody is going to be free to carry out that type of
heinous activity in Canada and not be subject to charge and
prosecution. It's in the Criminal Code.
Mr. Randall Garrison: I want to go back to the question of
oversight. Again, when I was asking the minister, he said the warrant
authorizes this disruptive activity if it involves illegal or unconstitutional activity, but he didn't get a chance to respond to my question,
which is how does that ever get oversight from a judge? Once that
warrant is issued, how does that ever get back before the courts?
You talk about judicial oversight. I don't see any way.... In
contrast, when the RCMP uses disruptive tactics as part of a criminal
investigation, that ends up back in front of the courts and the courts
do get to see that, but in this case, they are secret activities not aimed
at criminal prosecutions and so they will not appear before the
Hon. Steven Blaney: As you know, we now have had the
Canadian Security Intelligence Service for more than 30 years. In my
capacity as Minister for Public Safety, and as Mr. Easter also had the
opportunity to do in the past, we already have judicial oversight that
relates to collecting information. This goes through a robust
oversight mechanism first.
When CSIS is willing to carry out collection activity that would
require a warrant, it has to submit its proposal to the Department of
Public Safety. There are more than 1,000 people working at Public
Safety with experts who have the experience to validate that, and
those people give me a recommendation on whether or not I should
accept the warrant to collect information. Those activities—
Mr. Randall Garrison: Minister, the question is about afterwards; how does this get back before the courts after the warrant?
March 10, 2015
Hon. Steven Blaney: Well, what I want to tell you is that we're
conducting those activities. We've already been conducting those
activities for 30 years. Afterwards, what happens, where we have
oversight, we have a review body. We have the Security Intelligence
Review Committee, and I just quoted how the role of SIRC is
important, but let me give you another quote this morning.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We will now go to Mr. Payne.
Mr. LaVar Payne (Medicine Hat, CPC): I'd like to thank
Minister MacKay and Minister Blaney and their officials for coming.
Certainly this is a very important piece of legislation and Canadians
expect their government to protect our citizens as well as make sure
that Canada is safe and secure.
Minister Blaney, if you would like to go ahead and make that
quote, I'd be more than happy to hear it.
Hon. Steven Blaney: The chair is tough on me this morning, I
must say.
What I want to say is really important. Our system is based on
trust. As politicians we get elected because people trust in us,
actually. It is important to maintain that bond of trust, the trust of
Canadians towards their institutions. Are they perfect? No, they are
not. Are politicians perfect? They aren't either. Well, that's why we
have mechanisms to review and see if there have been mistakes.
Have there been mistakes in the past? Yes. Will there be mistakes in
the future? There could be, but we must ensure we do everything to
avoid them.
The quote I want to give you, and I'll give it to you right away, is
about the Security Intelligence Review Committee. They are this
Canadian model designed 30 years ago that is keeping an eye on our
intelligence community. They are experts. They have independence.
They don't have political interference. They have the knowledge and
the expertise to conduct their activities. They have a deep
understanding and knowledge of CSIS. You only have to read the
report to know how deep they can go. Actually, this is the mandate
we the parliamentarians have given them. They are actually an
extension of Parliament. SIRC is an extension of Parliament. They
are acting on our behalf and they are reporting to this very
Parliament. That's what our Security Intelligence Review Committee
Well, this security intelligence review process is an example of the
Canadian legal system striking a better balance between the
protection of sensitive information and the procedural rights of
individuals. Who said that? The Supreme Court of Canada.
● (1010)
Mr. LaVar Payne: That's a pretty good quote. Thank you.
My next question is for Minister MacKay.
Minister, in your opening remarks, you talked about lowering the
thresholds for recognizance with conditions. I'm wondering if you
could tell us why you believe that's important. Do you have any
examples where law enforcement could have used this to benefit
them in the past?
Hon. Peter MacKay: The reality is that the peace bonds and
recognizance are a tool, to borrow a phrase from Mr. Blaney, that the
police are able to use in a pre-emptive manner. The classic case
where you see an example of an individual exhibiting behaviour that
would be consistent with someone who's been radicalized, somebody who may pose a threat, someone who may be, for example,
subject to this type of activity in the future, the police are able, based
on evidence, to go before a judge and seek a recognizance, or a
peace bond, depending on that evidentiary burden, depending on the
behaviour, and put in place through the judge certain conditions that
the individual has to comply with. Those could include such things
as forfeiture of passport, conditions of reporting, staying within a
certain geographic area, not associating with certain individuals, not
possessing weapons or explosives.
You can see that these are two mechanisms, through the law,
through a judicial exercise, that allow us to put controls in place prior
to the commission of an offence. By lowering the thresholds, we
gain greater access to those conditions and controls.
It has been said in the past, and the argument I believe has been
successfully made, that in cases of terrorism where the potential for
harm, grave personal harm, is so real and perhaps imminent,
lowering the thresholds to gain greater access to these tools is what
we hope to achieve. That is what is encompassed in these sections of
the bill.
Along a continuum, lowering the thresholds to have recognizance
and peace bonds in place we believe will empower the police to
make the right decisions, with judicial authorization, to put in place
conditions that we hope will absolutely prevent and deter terrorist
acts in Canada.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Ms. Doré Lefebvre, you have five minutes.
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
If I may, I would like to continue to talk about the civilian
oversight of CSIS, because a number of questions have been left
Right now, the civilian oversight body of CSIS provides a report
after the fact. Bill C-51 gives new powers to CSIS, but this is what I
am wondering. Who will provide the oversight in real time? Who
will ensure that CSIS complies with the warrants?
Bill C-51 is providing several new powers to CSIS. Right now, the
civilian oversight body provides a report once a year after the fact.
Will we find out what happened after the fact as is the case right
now, or will we know in real time what is happening exactly?
Hon. Steven Blaney: The answer is very simple. The Canadian
Security Intelligence Service is subject to all Canadian laws,
including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and privacy
It is important to specify it this morning. The threat reduction
activities set out in the legislation cannot undermine the physical
integrity or health of an individual in any way whatsoever.
● (1015)
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre: Mr. Minister, I would still like to
know where we are at on that. It is an extremely important aspect
and several experts have pointed it out over the last few weeks. What
is the situation with the civilian oversight? Will it stay the same,
meaning it will take place after the fact, or will there be an oversight
mechanism? Do you think it would be a good idea to have a
mechanism providing oversight in real time so that we know exactly
what is happening?
Hon. Steven Blaney: That is what I am telling you. We have
both: the belt and the suspenders. We have an oversight mechanism
at all times. Let me remind you that the Canadian Security
Intelligence Service must respect the law; its inherent responsibility
is to respect the law.
I also mentioned other mechanisms, such as the authorizations
granted through ministerial directives or through a judge, in some
Over the past 30 years, the roadmap of the Canadian Security
Intelligence Service has been listed in the annual reports of the
review committee that has the power to intervene in various sectors.
March 10, 2015
As Minister MacKay said, it is important to entrust this mandate to
people who have the necessary skills. That is what the staff of the
Security Intelligence Review Committee does.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Blaney.
Mr. Falk, you have five minutes.
Mr. Ted Falk (Provencher, CPC): I want to thank the ministers
and their officials for attending this meeting this morning and for
their input.
Back in the 1920s my grandparents were experiencing terrorism in
what was then known as the Soviet Union. They were refugees in
Canada during that time. We've been thankful ever since that the
government allowed my grandparents to immigrate here under the
refugee program.
This morning, you are giving me the opportunity to remind you
that Bill C-51 gives more powers to the review committee,
specifically enabling it to review the threat reduction activities.
One of the things that is of interest to me is with regard to the
changes being made to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre: Yes, but that takes place after the
fact. Do the provisions in Bill C-51 make it possible to provide more
powers to the Security Intelligence Review Committee?
In terms of some of the amendments that this bill proposes, can
you clarify why they are needed and why those changes are being
Hon. Steven Blaney: Yes, there are the legal warrants for threat
reduction cases. As we have seen, that does not affect the Security
Intelligence Review Committee. It has to do more with preventive
arrests related to warrants. There are additional tools for both cases.
In addition, let me remind you that, to my knowledge, we are the
only country that does not have those tools. We checked what tools
many of our allied countries have. We must realize that we are
lagging behind. Right now, all the intelligence services of our allies
can reduce the threat. They are able to take action.
Remember that your first question was about whether we had antiradicalization prevention measures. Right now, the intelligence
services that are in the line of fire, where radicalization takes place,
are not able to intervene to reduce the threat. To be consistent in
taking a stand to reduce radicalization, we must be in favour of threat
reduction measures. Let me say this again: we are the only country to
include judicial oversight and a warrant issued by a judge.
As part of this warrant, the service must describe all the activities
to the judge. The judge can deny or issue the warrant or bring in a
third party to obtain a critical opinion. That is the system in place
and we are strengthening it through Bill C-51.
● (1020)
Hon. Steven Blaney: Canada is a welcoming country. Canada is
welcoming immigrants from around the world every year. There are
more than 200,000 immigrants, new Canadians, coming to Canada.
They come and they like, if I can put it this way, our Canadian way
of living. My ancestors emigrated from Ireland. That's probably why
I'm so skinny; there was not much to eat at that time.
To get back to your question regarding the Immigration and
Refugee Protection Act, this is in response to the Supreme Court. In
the case of some individuals who could come here and potentially
represent a threat to our security, we want to make sure that we
clarify the rules under which we are able to protect Canadians while
ensuring that we respect their rights.
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre: Right now, there are positions
available on the Security Intelligence Review Committee. Will you
be appointing people quickly to fill those positions?
That's why we've defined the way in which the information can be
processed and also how we can protect national security in that
regard. There is also a clearly defined appeal process for any
individual. Once again, this is to clarify the procedures under which
Canada, when an individual could represent a threat, is dealing with
that issue.
Hon. Steven Blaney: There are already 15 to 20 full-time
employees. There are four commissioners and a fifth position needs
to be filled. Clearly, we must have experts. For instance, the last
person to be appointed is Mr. Holloway, the dean of a law faculty.
We've actually considered a former decision of the Supreme Court
that indicated that we needed to clarify the law. That is why this
section is in the bill.
March 10, 2015
Hon. Peter MacKay: I would only add, Mr. Falk, that this ties in
with what Mr. Blaney outlined earlier in terms of the importance of
the information sharing that goes on between government departments. I think it would actually shock some Canadians to know that
this isn't already happening to the extent that's necessary in this very
fluid and evolving threat assessment. The information sharing is
extremely important particularly with a department such as
immigration. To your very real experience in terms of your family
lineage, so many people do come to this country to get out from
under the yoke of terrorism, to leave that behind and to come to
Canada and avail themselves of the protections that we enjoy in this
country, our charter, our Constitution. Our way of life is something
that they're quick to embrace.
In talking about this bill, I think it's new Canadians perhaps who
have the greatest perspective on what makes this country great and
why they're here and why they're so quick to embrace and participate
in the freedoms that we're so fortunate to enjoy. This bill is about
enhancing and protecting those freedoms and all Canadians.
Mr. Ted Falk: Thank you, Minister, and that's the way I see it as
well, that this bill is a step forward in protecting our rights and
Can you explain briefly what the process is in respect to appealing
a decision by a judge during the course of proceedings?
Hon. Peter MacKay: With respect to immigration?
Mr. Ted Falk: Yes, with a security certificate regime.
Hon. Steven Blaney: I would suggest that you refer to clause 52
of the bill, which clearly defines the technical way in which an
appeal can be targeted. The bill describes how it works. Basically,
we base our appeal process on other appeal processes so that it
would meet constitutional rights. That's how it is filled. I would say
it is a model of appeal that compares to others in similar situations.
The Chair: Thank you, Minister.
Now we'll go to—
A voice: Mr. Chair....
The Chair: Yes.
Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): Mr. Chair, I'd
like the discretion of the committee to be allowed to ask a question.
As you know, a number of us as members of Parliament requested to
The Chair: No.
Ms. Elizabeth May: Mr. Chair, we never—
The Chair: No, you don't have the floor. You don't have the floor,
I'm sorry. What I will do is the chair will put your request and if I
have a majority decision here to allow that to happen, that could take
Do I have unanimous support?
An hon. member: No.
The Chair: No we don't.
Mr. Norlock, please.
Mr. Rick Norlock: Mr. Chair, I have several areas I'd like to hit
upon, so through you I would ask the witnesses that I'm about to ask
questions if they could be succinct unless they feel it necessary to
expand on their answers.
My first question will be for Mr. Coulombe, the head of CSIS.
Mr. Coulombe, in the 30-year history of CSIS, how many times
has SIRC chastised or found you and your organization to be in
breach of the rules under which you operate?
● (1025)
Mr. Michel Coulombe (Director, Canadian Security Intelligence Service): From memory, I wouldn't do it justice. Prior to that,
the certification of the director's annual report to the minister was
done by the inspector general for two or three years. Now it's done
by SIRC. Again, from memory, in all of those annual reports, the
certification was always that our activities were done in conformity
with the CSIS Act ministerial direction and it was never an abusive
or excessive use of our powers.
Mr. Rick Norlock: May I take it from that, that's zero?
Mr. Michel Coulombe: There has been criticism and recommendation on ways to improve the way we do things but not in terms of
breaking the laws.
Mr. Rick Norlock: Thank you very much.
Also, we heard mention in some of the questioning that Judge
Mosley had some concerns with regard to the activities of CSIS.
What have you done, sir, to address those concerns?
Mr. Michel Coulombe: Back in the fall of 2013 when the
decision came down, the first thing we did was we stopped doing the
activities that were caught in that process. It is very difficult for me
to talk about some of the issues because there are still questions that
are now in front of the Supreme Court and it would be improper for
me to comment on this.
Mr. Rick Norlock: Thank you very much.
Hon. Steven Blaney: If I may, Mr. Norlock, as you know, I came
in front of this committee to respond to the invitation of the Supreme
Court which is to define clearly that CSIS has the mandate to operate
here and abroad, to exchange information, to include a witness
protection program, and also to protect the confidentiality of a
member of CSIS operating. This bill is now in front of the Senate;
the Senate is moving forward on it, and I am confident that this bill,
which is simply maintaining the existing capability of CSIS, will be
Mr. Rick Norlock: Thank you very much.
We heard some of the questions from the opposition, a lot on
process, etc., etc., but there were no real questions concerning the
My next question would be concerning real-time oversight. As far
as I'm concerned, being in the law enforcement community, real-time
oversight means somebody standing over you watching what you're
Commissioner Paulson, do you have real-time oversight over you,
somebody following you around, making sure that every move your
members make is being verified by some other agency?
Commr Bob Paulson: It seems like it sometimes.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. Rick Norlock: Yes.
I'm asking you, are you aware of any police force in Canada that
has real-time oversight?
Commr Bob Paulson: No, other than the internal processes that
we have for supervision and leadership.
Mr. Rick Norlock: Right, it's internal.
Thank you very much.
I would like to go back to my friends in CSIS.
March 10, 2015
Instead of passing these powers to SIRC, which has basically had
the same flat budget for the last 10 years, why not bring back the
inspector general to help provide that internal oversight?
Hon. Steven Blaney: I thank you for you question.
You are right in saying that there were some concerns when the
office of the inspector general was closed, that it could have an
impact. Well, it's the opposite that took place. For this I would refer
you to the last annual report from SIRC, which clearly says:
As required under the CSIS act, SIRC's interaction with the Minister have
become more frequent. Far from compromising its independence...this relationship has substantially added to [the security and intelligence review committee's]
role in the system of accountability and has, if anything, deepened SIRC's ability
to reassure Parliament and Canadians regarding the activities of the Service.
You were very clear about serious breaches in the 30-year history
where you were criticized. Madam Ablonczy mentioned some of the
criticisms by some of the very people who are criticizing this
legislation, saying that we're in a police state.
This action was taken two years ago, and we can now say who has
benefited: the whole Canadian society and the protection of their
rights and their freedoms.
Going back to the activities of members of CSIS, do you feel your
members have the oversight that is appropriate to their duties?
Let me just add that it's not only SIRC that can review all CSIS
activities, but it is also possible by the Auditor General and the
Privacy Commissioner.
Mr. Michel Coulombe: I've testified a number of times that in my
opinion SIRC is a robust review mechanism that has proven over 30
years its value, its impartiality. I've said publicly again a number of
times that our organization is a better organization because of the
work of SIRC.
Mr. Rick Norlock: Thank you very much.
When your members are being trained and being told what their
duties are, they are specifically guided by the Charter of Rights and
Freedoms, how far they can go with regard to the authority given to
them. Would I be correct in saying that this is part and parcel of their
training, and a major part of it?
Mr. Michel Coulombe: It is part of the training.
It goes from the charter, flows into the CSIS Act, ministerial
directive, and then operational internal policy. They're all linked.
● (1030)
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Norlock and Mr.
Now Mr. Garrison, please.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Mr. Norlock opened up an interesting line
of questioning, which I'd like to continue with, when he talked about
the RCMP and its internal monitoring of activities. We used to have
an inspector general of CSIS who did internal monitoring of
observance of the law and CSIS activities, and that was eliminated
by this government in 2012.
I'd like to ask the minister, given the broad expansion of powers
and activities contemplated for CSIS in this, why not bring back the
inspector general's position? The former inspector general said quite
clearly, and she actually used the word “ridiculous”, that it was
ridiculous to think the review committee known as SIRC could do
the same job of probing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
She said:
They don't do the same kind of work at all.... They don't go into the same depth,
the same detail. And they're basically part-time people.
Mr. Randall Garrison: You raised two interesting points there.
One, the last annual report of SIRC said very clearly that it had
problems in receiving complete information in a timely manner from
CSIS. They themselves have said that they've had problems doing
the oversight because of a failure of cooperation in a complete and
timely manner. How does that square with your argument that this is
an improvement in robust oversight?
Hon. Steven Blaney: I'm glad to see you are supporting our great
Security Intelligence Review Committee. Let me just say that
Canada is one of the first democratic governments anywhere in the
world to establish a statutory framework for its security service. We
are pioneers in a totally independent institution. Is it critical
sometimes of the work of CSIS? Absolutely. Actually, you just have
to review their report. Indeed, they've done many reviews on
counter-intelligence investigation, sensitive CSIS activities, namely
the carrying of firearms—it's in the report—use of an emergency
area, and they also have, as you know, a complaint process. We
really have a robust system.
What is also important is every year they are delivering a
certificate to me.
The question is, has CSIS operated under Canadian law? In most
of its reviews, SIRC was satisfied this year with the manner in which
CSIS carried out its mandate to investigate threats to the security of
Canada and they gave this certificate of approval. Do they have good
recommendations? Yes. Are they making CSIS a better security
intelligence agency? Yes, they are.
In Bill C-51, for which I'm seeking the support of this committee,
there are provisions that will mandate SIRC to review the threat
diminishment activities that are in the provisions. We are increasing
the mandate of SIRC the same way.
● (1035)
Mr. Randall Garrison: Thank you very much, Minister.
March 10, 2015
Very briefly, at the end you mentioned the Privacy Commissioner,
who unfortunately is not going to appear before this committee. Did
you have a review of this legislation from the Privacy Commissioner
before you introduced this legislation? What do you make of his
concerns that this bill involves a significant loss of privacy rights?
The Chair: Very briefly.
Hon. Steven Blaney: Okay.
Yes, we consulted with the Privacy Commissioner, and I intend to
meet with the Privacy Commissioner. As you know, this bill is about
the protection of the rights and freedoms of Canadians and their
privacy. There are embedded mechanisms in Bill C-51 and already
within government, such as the privacy impact assessment, that will
apply to the measures planned in this bill.
The Chair: Thank you, Minister.
Now, Mrs. James for five minutes.
Ms. Roxanne James: I find it interesting that we keep talking
about the Privacy Commissioner not being invited to committee. In
fact, the NDP did not even put him on their witness list. I just wanted
Mr. Randall Garrison: He's not a witness; he's an officer of
Ms. Roxanne James: Well, we all put forward witnesses, Mr.
Chair, and he was not one of them put forward by the opposition.
Hon. Steven Blaney: That's it. That's it, and again, it's only
existing information that is transferred within the government so the
left hand and the right hand know.
Ms. Roxanne James: If there were reason to believe that
someone was going to bring in a pipe bomb or blow up critical
infrastructure, that would then fall under the outline of information
sharing because it would be a threat to national security. Is that
Hon. Peter MacKay: That is correct.
In fact, I would point to some of the language here, where, while
serious interference with or disruption of an essential service or a
system is part of the definition of terrorist activity, it does not
include, to go to your point about a peaceful sit-in, lawful or
unlawful protest, dissent, or stoppage of work unless there is
intention to cause death or serious bodily harm, endanger someone's
life, or cause risk to the safety of the public. In other words, your
description certainly doesn't meet that standard. Non-violent
unlawful protest is not included in this broader definition of terrorist
Ms. Roxanne James: Thank you very much.
I'll direct a question to Commissioner Paulson.
Anyway, I'll get back to questioning.
Minister Blaney, I want to go back to the information sharing
portion of this bill, which is part 1. There's been some misconceptions with regard to the information sharing, which is actually part 1
of this bill, and conflating it with the amendments to the CSIS Act
under this bill with regard to information sharing. The information
sharing section does not equate to arrest or prosecution under any
sort of terrorism charges. I just wanted to make that very clear for the
committee members here today. Also, with respect to the ability to
share information, it has to fall under the umbrella of undermining
“the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada or the
lives or the security of the people of Canada”.
Taking this into consideration, there has been a whole lot of
concern about how protesters out there, in demonstrations, somehow
will be now falling under the umbrella of the information sharing
aspects of this bill, which is not the case.
I just want to ask you a couple of questions, and if you could just
indicate yes or no whether they would fall under the guise of
information sharing, as outlined in this bill.
Would a peaceful sit-in for any reasons have any protesters subject
to the information sharing portions of this bill?
Hon. Steven Blaney: Well, lawful protest is not included in that
bill. We've seen that although it could be illegal, if it doesn't
undermine the security of Canadians, it wouldn't be taken into the
information sharing act, so no.
Ms. Roxanne James: For protestors who might be blocking a
road or a railway, or even blocking a pipeline from being built, as
long as it does not undermine the security and all the other parts that
are in this bill, they're not going to be subject to information sharing.
We talked about this legislation in response to some of the gaps
that were identified by our national security agencies. With respect to
information sharing, could you elaborate on how this would help the
RCMP? For example, I think that in general terms there are
individuals who you may be tracking or monitoring, or who may be
on that list of 90-odd individuals that you've mentioned before, but
then there are other individuals who you may have no knowledge of
and who may also pose a threat.
First of all, does this legislation, in whole or in part, fill some of
the gaps identified by the RCMP? Also, with respect to information
sharing, how will that be extremely helpful to you?
Commr Bob Paulson: Yes, it does fill those gaps, and I think
Minister Blaney actually used a couple of examples that are real
examples of what happened to us recently in Turkey in terms of an
exchange of information from people who were coming out of Syria
and who had been wounded. There were questions about privacy
implications from one part of the government exchanging information with another part of the government. It would be very helpful
for those kinds of situations.
It would also be very helpful in respect of those people who we
don't know about. What we're, I think, proposing is that we begin to
shift the culture of an information management culture within the
Government of Canada that recognizes those instances where
information is plainly relevant and necessary, and relevant to the
protection of the security of the country, and that it be proactively
shared in instances where people recognize that it represents a threat.
It would be very helpful.
I should also say that it's also helpful in some of the measures that
Minister MacKay was speaking of in respect of the peace bonds and
the preventive arrests. Those are things that we identified as
important considerations in this sort of graded application of police
powers, because not only does it bring us closer to successful
criminal justice interventions, but with respect to the peace bonds, it
allows us to intervene in those counter-radicalization initiatives. By
having people on conditions, we're able to sort of intervene and work
with them to try to get them out of that path.
● (1040)
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Now we'll go for a round of three minutes, with Mr. Easter.
Hon. Wayne Easter: First, with regard to Mr. Norlock's question
on Justice Mosley, I have the court decision here. Just to be clear,
Justice Mosley found that CSIS breached its duty of candour to the
court by not disclosing information that was relevant to the exercise
of the jurisdiction of the court.
I do expect that CSIS is trying its best to ensure that it follows the
rules of the court, and I'll grant it that, but that decision does make
the point that when the minister claims that a judicial warrant is
oversight, it is not. Let me turn to oversight for a minute. The
minister talks about SIRC. We're not talking about oversight of just
CSIS and by just SIRC. Canadians want oversight of all our national
security agencies. This bill involves 10 other departments or
agencies in terms of the flow of information. Canadians are basically
demanding—and of course, the government, as usual, is not listening
—to have oversight of all of these agencies.
I might say, too, Mr. Chair, that Minister MacKay tried to put
words in my mouth. I do not agree with what he said. I'll turn to the
June 2009 report of this committee, of which Mr. Norlock was a
member, and which was chaired by a Conservative chair. In 2009 the
committee recommended creating a parliamentary committee to
review the activities of national security agencies.
It admits in there, Mr. MacKay, for your information, that a bill to
establish a committee of parliamentarians, Bill C-81, was introduced
on November 24, 2005. Who was the government then? It was
indeed the Liberals, but that's partisan and that's beside the point.
The fact of the matter is that Canadians believe, and Canadians need
—and we support them—national oversight by parliamentarians of
all of our national security agencies. Will the government consider
that and stop playing this game by saying either judicial or SIRC or
somebody else is doing the job? They aren't. Will the government
consider that?
March 10, 2015
Hon. Peter MacKay: Mr. Chair, it's very enlightening to hear this
conversion on the road to Damascus from a former solicitor general
who is advocating for something he so roundly rejected when he
held the position that Mr. Blaney now occupies, but I'll take him up
on his offer to avoid partisanship.
The reality is that with judicial oversight, with Attorney General
consent with regard to recognizance and peace bonds, with the SIRC
body that we've heard has very robust mechanisms and the ability to
look into the actions and the activities of our security enforcement,
there is oversight. There is also, of course, reporting to Parliament.
This report is now clearly before Canadians through Parliament. The
activities in some cases, for example recognizance, have come back
for sunset review. These are elements in which parliamentarians are
very involved and which they have the ability to examine.
The process we're taking part in today, as it did in the time of Mr.
Easter, gives us the opportunity to question officials, to hear from
experts, to put on the record the concerns that have been expressed
and to have a very open, transparent discussion about what activities
this new bill will grant. It allows us to examine, in context and in real
time, practical examples and concerns expressed by the commissioner, by the head of CSIS. That is exactly what is required in this
process so that Canadians can have confidence. This is something
Mr. Blaney has underscored many times.
Canadians have to have confidence and trust that our security
enforcement and security agencies are acting responsibly, acting
within the Canadian law, and acting in their best interests. We know
that terrorists do not play by any rules whatsoever. We, on the other
hand, are responsible to Parliament, responsible to the courts, and
responsible for responding in a way that is within the law of Canada.
● (1045)
The Chair: Thank you very much, Minister.
Before, we, collectively as a committee, thank our witnesses for
being here today, we have in this study an extensive list of witnesses
and the chair needs authority from the committee to pass a budget to
support our witnesses coming here. The chair is making a budget
request to the committee for $39,000 for witness expenses.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: It's unanimously agreed to. Thank you very much.
At this time, we would like to thank Minister Blaney, Minister
MacKay, Commissioner Paulson, and all of our senior departmental
officials. Thank you very kindly.
The meeting is adjourned.
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Chambre ne s’étend pas aux reproductions permises. Lorsqu’une reproduction comprend des mémoires présentés à un
comité de la Chambre, il peut être nécessaire d’obtenir de
leurs auteurs l’autorisation de les reproduire, conformément à
la Loi sur le droit d’auteur.
Nothing in this permission abrogates or derogates from the
privileges, powers, immunities and rights of the House of
Commons and its Committees. For greater certainty, this
permission does not affect the prohibition against impeaching
or questioning the proceedings of the House of Commons in
courts or otherwise. The House of Commons retains the right
and privilege to find users in contempt of Parliament if a
reproduction or use is not in accordance with this permission.
La présente permission ne porte pas atteinte aux privilèges,
pouvoirs, immunités et droits de la Chambre et de ses comités.
Il est entendu que cette permission ne touche pas l’interdiction
de contester ou de mettre en cause les délibérations de la
Chambre devant les tribunaux ou autrement. La Chambre
conserve le droit et le privilège de déclarer l’utilisateur
coupable d’outrage au Parlement lorsque la reproduction ou
l’utilisation n’est pas conforme à la présente permission.
Also available on the Parliament of Canada Web Site at the
following address:
Aussi disponible sur le site Web du Parlement du Canada à
l’adresse suivante :
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