September 18, 2001

LIB

John O'Reilly

Liberal

Mr. John O'Reilly (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the pleasure to table, in both official languages, two copies of the National Defence and Canadian Forces ombudsman 2000-01 annual report to parliament on the administration of the Access to Information and Privacy Acts.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Access to Information and Privacy Acts
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LIB

Denis Coderre

Liberal

Hon. Denis Coderre (for the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-30, an act to establish a body that provides administrative services to the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, the Court Martial Appeal Court and the Tax Court of Canada, to amend the Federal Court Act, the Tax Court of Canada Act and the Judges Act, and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts.

(Motions deemed adopted and bill read the first time and printed.)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Courts Administration Service Act
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LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

I would also like to request permission to table documents.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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The Speaker

Is it agreed that all questions stand?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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The Speaker

Is it agreed that we revert to tabling of documents?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to table, in both official languages, a number of order in council appointments made recently by the government.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Order in Council Appointments
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CA

Kevin Sorenson

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, Canadian Alliance)

moved:

That this House call upon the government to introduce anti-terrorism legislation similar in principle to the United Kingdom's Terrorism Act, 2000, and that such legislation provide for:

the naming of all known international terrorist organizations operating in Canada;

a complete ban on fundraising activities in support of terrorism, and provisions for the seizure of assets belonging to terrorists or terrorist organizations;

the immediate ratification of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism;

the creation of specific crimes for engaging in terrorist training activities in Canada or inciting terrorist acts abroad from Canada;

the prompt extradition of foreign nationals charged with acts of terrorism, even if the charges are capital offences; and

the detention and deportation to their country of origin of any people illegally in Canada or failed refugee claimants who have been linked to terrorist organizations.

Mr. Speaker, before I begin I would like to notify you that I will be splitting my time with my leader, the leader of the official opposition.

“It's the end of the age of complacency”. That was a headline in the National Post yesterday. Under this heading we read:

Security will become the dominant policy agenda in Canada for the foreseeable future...If there are new resources to be had, the security side of government will be able to lay claim to them a lot better, a lot faster and a lot quicker than other sectors.

I will believe that when I see it. Unfortunately I am not confident that we will maintain the heightened vigilance enacted following the horrific events of September 11. I know that those concerns are also shared by the former commissioner of our Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Norman Inkster.

During a recent interview, Mr. Inkster said:

My concern is, just as has occurred in the past, we get a knee-jerk reaction and tighten everything up and a few months or a year from now we are back to where we were. Then we open the door to these kinds of people perpetrating similar events in the future. If we are serious about security--and we ought to be--then let's decide the appropriate level, let's fund it accordingly and let's maintain it. Our biggest risk is complacency.

I am afraid that despite the mortal threat we and other democratic nations face, Canada will eventually grow lax, especially if bin Laden, the United States' prime suspect, bides his time.

As Andrew Coyne of the Post writes:

--the enemy we face presents a unique combination: of enormous ambition, extraordinary capacity, and fanatical determination, such that he is willing to kill himself as well as others...If he is truly fiendish, he may do nothing for a time, until we grow lax, or tired, or bored, and forget what all the fuss was about. Then he will strike again.

Our response to the tragic events in the United States cannot be limited to avenging this one atrocity. We cannot simply launch a quick retaliatory strike against the immediate culprits. Canada must, as President Bush has promised Americans, launch a massive and sustained campaign against international terrorism in general. However, as pointed out numerous times in the House yesterday, our security and intelligence agencies, like our national defence forces, have been starved for so long that the Canadian public is not confident that we have the capacity to fight such a sustained war.

We are not confident that our present laws allow for apprehension and retention of terrorists and their associates. Therefore, today the Canadian Alliance asks the Government of Canada to immediately consider the question of anti-terrorism legislation.

I would like to point out that this request was not born solely out of last week's events. We on this side of the House have been urging the Liberal government for some time to get tough with organized criminals, to eradicate senseless acts of violence, to effectively close the doors to undesirable migrants who so readily and easily take advantage of our generosity, and also to make aiding and abetting terrorists an offence.

Before I proceed, I will say to you, Mr. Speaker, and to my colleagues that I mean no disrespect or animosity toward any of the many of the legitimate and trustworthy immigrants making Canada their home. We know that the vast majority of these people are law abiding citizens who have and will continue to contribute to the economic well-being of our nation as well as the cultural mosaic of the country. I refer only to those individuals who seek Canada as a stage, a stage to wage war against the United States and other nations.

On April 30 during the second reading of Bill C-16 I stood in the House and said:

If curbing the operation of terrorist front groups truly was the goal, we could emulate Great Britain's terrorism act 2000, which empowers cabinet to ban from its country any organization that it believes is involved in terrorist activities. The law proscribes any group if it commits or participates in acts of terrorism; if it prepares for terrorism; if it promotes or encourages terrorism; or if it is otherwise concerned in terrorism either in the United Kingdom or abroad.

I asked the government a number of months ago to introduce and enact legislation that would make it hard for terrorists and their supporters to get here and stay here, and furthermore to make it impossible for terrorist supporters to raise money while here. I also asked that for those caught supporting terrorist activities in any way, shape or form, here or abroad, criminal charges with severe penalties be handed down.

The solicitor general rejected such recommendations. He did so despite knowing from intelligence sources that terrorist groups from around the world were and are extremely active in Canada, raising funds for bomb plots or other violent activities.

As stated earlier, we are formally asking that the government immediately consider the question of anti-terrorism legislation similar in principle to the United Kingdom's terrorism act 2000. That legislation provides for the following: first, the naming of all known international terrorist organizations operating in Canada; second, a complete ban on fundraising activities in support of terrorism and provisions for the seizure of assets belonging to terrorists or terrorist organizations; third, the immediate ratification of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism; fourth, the creation of specific crimes for engaging in terrorist activities in Canada or inciting terrorist activities abroad; fifth, the prompt extradition of foreign nationals charged with acts of terrorism, even if the charges are capital offences; sixth, the detention and deportation to their country of origin of people illegally in Canada or who are failed refugee claimants who have been linked to terrorist organizations.

As lead critic for the official opposition, I am asking the solicitor general to effectively equip, adequately fund and sufficiently empower CSIS and the RCMP. We must ensure that our first lines of defence against terrorism can do their job, including all emerging threats. What types of threats? There is perhaps the threat of anthrax, the threat of a potentially deadly biological weapon for terrorists, which could decimate the population of any metropolitan area. Yet despite general security warnings in 1998 regarding the possibility of anthrax being brought into this country, the government has done nothing to prepare us against a potential attack.

As recommended by an expert from John Hopkins University, we should be stockpiling drugs and vaccines and developing and distributing rapid tests for agents and we should come up with effective ways of isolating infected people.

On September 11, the world received a huge wake up call, one so powerful that this government had no choice but to react. There have been other times. There have been other attempts to provide wake up calls. CSIS has tried in the past to wake a slumbering government, but the government has reached out and hit the snooze button.

CSIS tried to warn the government and provide a wake up call in regard to the growing threat of terrorism, the more sophisticated acts of terrorism; however, the government hit the snooze button. CSIS tried to wake up the government in regard to its caseload, how it did not have enough resources and how it has to risk manage the threats, but the government hit the snooze button.

The Canadian Alliance has tried to wake a slumbering government in regard to bills, criminal acts and terrorism. In disdain the government has reached out and hit the snooze button.

The RCMP tried to provide a wake up call when they said 8,000 Tamil tigers were living and training in Toronto. The government reached out and hit the snooze button, except of course for our finance minister who happened to be out for lunch with them at the time.

The RCMP also complained about the crippling effects of few dollars and limited resources, but the government hit the snooze button.

I will concede that this government is now awake, but the question remains, will the government remain awake or will it roll over and go back to sleep?

Is this really the end of the age of complacency? Time will tell.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Allotted Day--Anti-Terrorism Legislation
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LIB

Dennis Mills

Liberal

Mr. Dennis Mills (Toronto—Danforth, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the opposition's subject choice for the debate today. I personally support the motion that we review all the things we have done in the House in the area of anti-terrorism legislation, et cetera. With so many members wanting to speak today I will need to make my three points in a short period.

First, I support the Prime Minister. Whatever we do must be in keeping with the value system of the country and especially to be ultra sensitive to the multicultural reality. When we make our recommendations for CSIS and the RCMP, we must make sure that in their future staffing they will reflect the multicultural reality of our country because that could be a good resource for exchanging information with other countries involved in terrorist activities as well as our own.

I also want to acknowledge the right hon. leader of the Conservative Party who yesterday said that the debate was an exercise for all parliamentarians. I totally support that.

I believe we as members of parliament should not just listen to our trusted officials, whether they be with immigration, CSIS, the RCMP or even experts with our embassies abroad. I know nothing about this issue but we know that countries have been experiencing this problem over the last many years. We have been sheltered.

I believe elected MPs have a unique opportunity to develop good anti-terrorist legislation. My view is that we should visit our elected counterparts in the countries that have been experiencing terrorism for many years. We should learn from their experience and get their ideas so that whatever legislation we develop has the benefit of world expertise. Those are my comments to the opposition.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Allotted Day--Anti-Terrorism Legislation
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CA

Kevin Sorenson

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Kevin Sorenson

Mr. Speaker, now is the time when we are called to action. Now is not the time to begin a committee structure and do a lot of travelling. Yes, we do need to look at what other countries have done. We need to emulate countries that have provided anti-terrorism, such as the one that is already there in the United Kingdom. The United States also has an anti-terrorist bill. I think it brought in an effective ant- terrorism and capital punishment bill in 1996.

We need to look at all countries that are dealing with terrorism but we also need to let the world know today that we stand shoulder to shoulder with our American friends and closest neighbour, and that we will do everything within our power to stand beside them.

Our concern is the levels of CSIS and the RCMP. Since 1997 I think we have lost 2,200 RCMP personnel. We have lost $175 million in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police budget and $133 million from CSIS.

When we talk about commitment, the Canadian public is looking at the government and asking how big a commitment it has against terrorism acts when every budget is being cut.

Now is the time for the solicitor general to ask the government to put in place the appropriate measures to fund CSIS and the RCMP and to be sure that our first and frontline of defence is prepared.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Allotted Day--Anti-Terrorism Legislation
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CA

Stockwell Day

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Stockwell Day (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday this House presented a united front. All MPs deplored the terrible attacks against innocent victims that took place a week ago.

We were united in our grief. We were united in our compassion. We were united in our desire to solve the problem. Now, however, we must move from those emotions that united us to concrete policies that will help us to move on.

We will still be united as far as some of those solutions are concerned, but others will find us less so.

One thing in which there was unanimity was that the events of September 11 have changed the world and now we must ask the tough question of how these tragic events must change our laws and our policies.

The acts that launched this debate were committed in the United States. The perpetrators may have come from many countries in the Middle East and Europe and their deeds may yet lead to Canadian forces fighting overseas, but the war against terrorism begins here at home in Canada.

After last week, even a country like Canada, which is used to thinking of itself as a peaceful and non-violent country, finds itself at risk. Of course, we are not immune. We did have the tragic Air India bombing which killed 329 people. That originated in Canada. Thankfully we have not often seen lethal acts of terrorism on our soil.

However other countries have not been so fortunate. They have had the bitter experience of dealing with terrorism and have been forced to modernize their laws to deal with these threats. Two countries with very similar democratic values to our own, the United Kingdom and the United States, have already brought in comprehensive anti-terrorism legislation. While the events of last week show strong laws alone will not in all cases stop determined terrorists, they can at least give to police, prosecutors, border security and others the tools they need to fight terrorists and terrorism. We must examine and learn from the experience of our British and American allies and see where their legislation could possibly be a model for our own.

In 1996 in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, the United States did bring in comprehensive anti-terrorism legislation in the form of the anti-terrorism and effective death penalty act which was signed by President Clinton.

In Canada the interdepartmental intelligence policy group reviewed the U.S. legislation in 1997 and made a conclusion saying that the need for such a scheme could not be established.

In 2000 the United Kingdom, which already had strong anti-terrorism legislation on the books at that time to deal with the threat of the IRA, brought in new sweeping anti-terrorism legislation to deal with international terrorism that could possibly be operating within the U.K.

The official opposition has pointed to the British terrorism act of 2000 as an example of the kind of effective legislation that Canada should look at, but so far the government has not chosen to emulate the example of our British friends and our allies. The U.S. and the U.K. governments under the Clinton Democrats and Tony Blair's Labour Party felt that it was possible to bring in comprehensive terrorism legislation without endangering the democratic values that are important to us.

We believe that Canada can do no less. We want to support our Prime Minister and the government in terms of this type of legislation and approach. This is not about posturing politically. This is about being able to stand tall together and protect our citizens and answer their concerns and their cry for security. This is one of a number of areas. Security of markets is something we will also be pursuing but we need to look at this in terms of security of the person and the people of Canada.

Therefore it must contain a comprehensive definition of terrorism. We need a way to distinguish between genuine acts of terrorism, whether committed at home or abroad, from political protest and dissent. Those are two very clearly different things. While the CSIS act does not have a definition of terrorism, we do need a comprehensive definition of terrorism and specific charges associated with it in the Criminal Code of Canada.

Second, effective anti-terrorism legislation must name and outlaw specific terror groups. Both the U.S. and the U.K. legislation do this. It also must take steps to not just outlaw the organizations but to ban fundraising or other support activities. It is not enough just to take away the charitable status, we must ban fundraising for these activities. The government so far has avoided this approach of naming and banning specific terrorist organizations and their front groups. I believe it is the will and the hope of the government to do that. I am optimistic.

In reply to questions from the official opposition on fundraising activities of various groups, we did not always receive favourable responses. We even had a response that CSIS does not provide a list of terrorist organizations and it does not provide a list of people or other organizations that it is targeting. Clearly that needs to change. The solicitor general has implied that the strength of Canadian law and policy is to not name those groups. In fact I think we would all agree now that it is a weakness.

The U.K. and the U.S. legislation provide specific lists of terror groups and outlaws their activities. We must do the same.

In 1998 CSIS stated that some 50 international terrorist groups were operating in Canada and that the names included some of the most deadly enemies of peace and democracy in the world today.

Some of the groups that were banned by the British terrorism act of 2000 and are known to have operated and do operate in Canada, according to CSIS documents, are the Babbar Khalsa, the International Sikh Youth Federation, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil , Hisbullah, Hamas, the Kurdistan Workers Party and the Irish Republican Army.

The Kelly report, a recent report from the Senate special committee, stated in 1999 that “Canada is a primary venue of opportunity to support, plan, or mount terrorist attacks”. Contrary to what some people wishfully think, what happened in New York can happen here, perhaps even worse. Attacks like the New York attack could be planned and orchestrated from Canadian soil by groups attempting to take advantage of the weaknesses of our legislation.

Canada signed the UN International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism of 1999. We need to do more. We need to take extra steps in that regard.

Bill C-16, which is before parliament, would make it possible to strip of their not for profit status certain groups that are financing terrorism. This is, of course, a good start, but we are still very far from true anti-terrorism legislation that would ban fundraising in support of terrorism in Canada and would eliminate the presence of such groups within this country.

Anti-terrorism legislation should not simply ban terrorist fundraising but all kinds of support activities. That would include training activities, recruiting, propaganda or communications. Terrorist groups should not be permitted to use Canadian Internet web servers to promote their cause or communicate through their supporters.

The British legislation calls and creates new crimes for members of terrorist groups. We need to look at these areas.

We must also change our laws regarding the extradition of suspected terrorists. Terrorism is a world without borders. We cannot let Canada become a safe haven for those who would rely on the humanitarian compassion of Canadian laws and yet avoid justice in their own countries or the countries where they have committed crimes.

If a government like the United States seeks people accused of terrorism in Canada we must be convinced that there is reasonable evidence. This is a very important point and I know some of our colleagues in the House have some sensitivity on this. If there is reasonable evidence, we should turn terrorists over regardless of the fact that they may face a penalty in that country, for instance in the United States, that would not apply here. That move would require a change in Canadian law to send a signal to terrorists that they cannot take advantage of Canada to avoid facing justice for their crimes.

One can only imagine the outrage if one of the perpetrators of the acts in New York and Washington, perhaps even the criminal mastermind who so carefully co-ordinated the flight schedules of the terrorists, found his way to Canada and we found ourselves unable to extradite such a person to the United States to face justice. Canadian law must address this possibility now because Canadian citizens will demand it.

These are only some of the areas that we must address. Over the weeks ahead the official opposition will continue to ask for the kinds of changes that we feel are necessary to restore confidence to our citizens, confidence in safety and security, confidence in the markets and confidence that we continue to grow both socially and economically. However the one thing we cannot afford is complacency. As Edmund Burke famously said “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”.

Changing laws alone will not stop terrorism. We are legislators and drafting and changing laws is what we do. Let it not be said after the next horrific terrorist incident that it happened because the good men and good women of the House chose to do nothing.

Mr. Speaker, at this point I would propose an amendment to the motion. I move:

That the motion be amended

a) by replacing the words “to introduce” with the words “to send to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights no later than November 1, 2001 draft” and

b) by adding after the last line “and that the committee report back to the House no later than February 12, 2002”.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Allotted Day--Anti-Terrorism Legislation
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LIB

Dennis Mills

Liberal

Mr. Dennis Mills

Mr. Speaker, I return to my earlier question to the leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition. With respect, I did not feel the answer was clear.

I support the review of the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. They obviously will need more resources, more staff and more agents. Does the Canadian Alliance support the notion that the agencies should reflect the multicultural reality of the country as they rebuild themselves?

To be honest, we have been out of touch with the terrorist activities which have been happening in many countries around the world for many years. Those countries, our elected counterparts, could be a tremendous source of information that would allow us to craft good legislation here.

Would the Leader of the Opposition and his party support the notion that elected members of parliament should visit our counterparts in those countries to make sure that whatever legislation we craft here has the benefit of their years of experience of seeing terrorism on a firsthand basis?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Allotted Day--Anti-Terrorism Legislation
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CA

Stockwell Day

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Stockwell Day

Mr. Speaker, those are two important questions. First, regarding whether the hiring practices of CSIS and the RCMP should reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of our country, it is more important to respect that than to reflect it. The Canadian Alliance does not agree with policies of blind affirmative action. It has not been proven to lead to the best performance in any area, venture or enterprise.

If there are sound reasons, and there are, we would want to make sure there were members of various groups within CSIS and the RCMP that understood the various components of Canadian society. That would make the operation a better one.

However we do not support strictly conforming to what have been shown to be failed policies of blind affirmative action. That has proven to be counterproductive. We want this to be the most productive means possible. Engaging people from across the spectrum is a way of doing that.

Second, on the question of visiting other jurisdictions, we want to make very clear that we want action in this regard. When we agreed to look at the wording of the original motion and add that it should go to a committee and a draft should be prepared, we agreed because we sensed there was goodwill from all members of the House to have legislation such as this.

However we are careful to acknowledge that when the public sees members of parliament send something to committee it is often the death knell of that initiative. The public is more than aware of the glacier-like speed of government.

We are concerned about that. That is why the dates are there. There must be a date, which we have affixed to this amendment, outlining the various stages at which the bill must move along. If there is to be travel to other jurisdictions to gain expertise, that is fine. However it must be within the dates we have laid out within the amendment.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Allotted Day--Anti-Terrorism Legislation
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PC

Peter MacKay

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC/DR)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the learned Leader of the Opposition. The definition of terrorism is in many instances nebulous. In Northern Ireland the political wing of a terrorist organization, Sinn Fein on behalf of the IRA, takes part in the political process. This is something I am sure we will need to delve into in great detail when we examine the question at the committee level.

Does the Leader of the Opposition have any insights he could share with us on this point? How can we define terrorism in a suitably precise way? Examples in recent days go beyond the pale, but certain activities in the world operate close to the edge of what we in North America would define as terrorism.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Allotted Day--Anti-Terrorism Legislation
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CA

Stockwell Day

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Stockwell Day

Mr. Speaker, the member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough raises a key concern. One of the challenges and dilemmas facing legislators continually is the question of security. We know, and it has been stated by others who have drafted legislation that has stood for 200 years, that any time people are willing to give up freedom for security they risk losing both. That is why we must be careful to make sure our citizens are secure but that freedom is respected.

That is why defining terrorism is so important. There are groups that will protest government, and so they should. We must be careful that we do not tread into areas of justified protest, even at times loud or uncomfortable protest that we do not like.

I will not speculate today on what the definition should be, but it should contemplate the concerns raised by the member that we do not intrude into areas of freedom. Groups to whom we may be opposed in principle or in politics must be allowed the freedom to clearly do what they do.

Terrorism can and must be defined in a way that is acceptable. These are some of the variations we will need to look at carefully to protect our freedoms.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Allotted Day--Anti-Terrorism Legislation
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LIB

Anne McLellan

Liberal

Hon. Anne McLellan (Minister of Justice, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, one week ago today individuals gathered around television sets across the country and around the world to watch the unfolding of unspeakable horror. We drew a collective breath knowing that the world was an altered place. I share with all Canadians sorrow for the families directly touched by the attacks.

My compassion and my prayers go first of all to those who have been directly affected by these acts of terrorism.

As well, I share with many a sense of loss for the world we took for granted before last Tuesday. Concern for national security, for freedom and for peace are now foremost in our minds.

In the days since and the days to come our thoughts will move between sorrow, despair, anger and worry. I sincerely hope that from all this we will be able to build, in partnership with other nations, a stronger world community. We must take further steps to fight terrorism so that those who commit these crimes understand that we will not be paralyzed by their acts of aggression.

Responding to this tragedy is a worldwide challenge and the government is prepared to do its part in meeting it. The safety and protection of all people is of the highest priority to the government.

As Canada's Attorney General and Minister of Justice, I pledge to lend my full co-operation to the attorney general of the United States, my colleague John Ashcroft, and to provide the support necessary to further the efforts of the world community to confront terrorism.

Like the United States, we too share a commitment to freedom and the rule of law and are committed to overcome the efforts of terrorists to weaken these pillars of democracy.

To date Canada has been reasonably secure from terrorist incidents within its borders, but we have not been immune. It is important that we have effective tools in place to keep Canada free of terrorists and that we have mechanisms for co-operating with our closest neighbour, the United States, and the larger international community.

Accordingly, Canada has always worked with the United States and the international community to develop international agreements and conventions, as well as developing its own domestic anti-terrorist legislation.

At the international level Canada has a long history of working in concert with the international community to pursue initiatives that reduce the threat posed by international terrorists. Canada has signed all 12 UN counterterrorist agreements. Ten of these have already been ratified, including those that target unlawful acts committed on aircraft, unlawful acts of violence at airports serving civil aviation, actions threatening civil aviation and the unlawful seizure of aircraft.

We are currently completing the ratification process of the remaining two agreements, the convention for the suppression of terrorist bombings and the international convention for the suppression of financing of terrorism.

The convention for the suppression of terrorist bombings covers new offences relating to the targeting of public places, transportation systems, government or infrastructure facilities with explosives or other lethal devices. It will require states that have ratified the convention to criminalize these offences when committed outside their borders and prosecute or extradite offenders found within their borders.

The international convention for the suppression of financing of terrorism is intended to cut terrorists off from the financial support that permits them to continue to operate. The convention requires state parties to make it a crime for a person to provide or collect funds with the knowledge that they might be used in terrorist activity.

Our signature on these conventions is a commitment by Canada to move forward to their ratification. I anticipate bringing implementing legislation before parliament that will allow us to prosecute these offences in Canada.

In addition to participating in the development of international protections against terrorism Canada has undertaken several bilateral commitments with the United States.

These include the Canada-U.S. cross-border crime forum which furthers co-operation and information sharing between Canada and the United States in the fight against transnational crime; the U.S.-Canadian Consultative Group on Counterterrorism which furthers collaboration between agencies and departments of both governments that are involved in the fight against terrorism; and the Canada-U.S. mutual legal assistance treaty and the Canada-U.S.A. extradition treaty which facilitate our ability to work together to fight terrorism.

There are also several domestic laws under my jurisdiction that are relevant to our counterterrorist policies. Hijacking, murder and other acts of violence can be prosecuted under the criminal code. As well, the criminal code has been amended to give Canadian courts the jurisdiction to try terrorist crimes committed abroad to ensure that terrorists are denied sanctuary and brought to justice after the commission of a terrorist crime.

The criminal code already provides powers to law enforcement officers to assist them in protecting and keeping the peace. I have also introduced organized crime legislation, Bill C-24, which is now in the Senate. Provisions in the bill would allow designated law enforcement officers investigating terrorist activity to undertake certain activities that would otherwise be illegal. The measures have been carefully crafted to protect us against and prevent organized crime while at the same time maintaining law enforcement accountability.

Rapidly evolving technologies are being used to shield unlawful activities including terrorism. Although current provisions of the criminal code provide grounds to lawfully intercept communications and to search and seize information in computer systems, new and constantly changing technologies challenge our capacity to do so. We are working to develop better methods to counter the use of information technologies that facilitate and assist terrorist activity.

In addition to these criminal code protections it is my intention to propose amendments to the Official Secrets Act. These will address intelligence gathering activities by foreign states and terrorist groups that could threaten Canada's essential infrastructures.

As well, I am planning to propose amendments to the Canada Evidence Act to better govern the use and protection of information that would be injurious to national security were it disclosed. These amendments would also protect information given to us in confidence by our allies.

As we search for effective means of security, privacy issues will be important. My department has been reviewing the privacy regime in Canada and in the course of this work the balance between the privacy and safety of Canadians will be a key consideration.

The enormity of last Tuesday's tragedy provokes extreme emotions in all of us. We cannot let terrorism and the fear of future terrorist acts justify casting aside the values upon which our great country has been built and from which it derives so much of its strength and richness, democracy, freedom of belief, freedom of political opinion, justice and equality.

As we respond to last Tuesday's attack and as we take measures to ensure our safety and keep Canada free from terrorists we must remember not to blame. As the Prime Minister said, we must remember that we are in a struggle against terrorism, not against any one community or faith. We must reaffirm Canada's fundamental values, the equality of every race, every colour, every religion and every ethnic origin.

Canada's strength lies in its ability to accept difference and to recognize our common humanity. Let us continue to nurture our respect for justice and respect for diversity. We have always governed ourselves by the rule of law, abiding by its even-handed guidance even in the face of brutal actions that belie all that civil society stands for. We must continue to do so.

The rule of law reflected in the laws and conventions I have referred to today is a fundamental part of the framework that will bring the perpetrators of terrorism to justice and preserve the values for which we all stand.

I should have mentioned at the beginning that I am splitting my time with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Allotted Day--Anti-Terrorism Legislation
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CA

Kevin Sorenson

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I have a short question for the Minister of Justice. If the evidence pointed that a terrorist, not in this past terrorist attack, carried out an attack in the United States where there were multiple deaths and where the mastermind of such an activity had found safe haven in Canada, would the Minister of Justice extradite that mastermind of terrorism back to the United States on a capital offence?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Allotted Day--Anti-Terrorism Legislation
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LIB

Anne McLellan

Liberal

Hon. Anne McLellan

Mr. Speaker, I do not accept the reference to Canada as a safe haven. By working domestically and with our allies across the world, we have ensured that no country is a safe haven for those who would commit such heinous acts.

As the hon. member is probably aware, extradition requires a request. If that request is made, procedures as outlined in the Extradition Act would be followed. I presume the hon. member is referring to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Burns and Rafay earlier this year.

The Supreme Court of Canada made it absolutely clear that the Minister of Justice does not have to seek assurances from a requesting state in exceptional circumstances.

It is my obligation on a case by case basis to determine whether exceptional circumstances exist and therefore assurance is not sought.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Allotted Day--Anti-Terrorism Legislation
Permalink
CA

Jay Hill

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, PC/DR)

Mr. Speaker, one of the problems in combating terrorism is that our security service, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service or CSIS, is restricted to operations within Canada.

I noted during the minister's remarks that she indicated she was willing to look at a number of changes. Is the minister contemplating expanding or lifting the restriction on CSIS so that it can actually operate on foreign soil to identify terrorists and prevent them from coming to Canada, rather than worry about trying to identify them once they are here and then have to extradite them?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Allotted Day--Anti-Terrorism Legislation
Permalink

September 18, 2001