June 5, 2003 (37th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Robert Lanctôt

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Robert Lanctôt (Châteauguay, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, in response to the statement made by the Solicitor General, I must echo the sentiments expressed by my colleague from the Canadian Alliance.
This statement is useless. It contains no new information. A year and a half after the events of September 11, 2001, the government tells us that terrorism could affect Canada and Quebec. Everyone knows this, this statement contains nothing new.
This statement simply takes up time in the House to tell us what everyone knows. We know that terrorism could strike Canada and Quebec. Why bother making a statement about it? Again, it is so the minister can use time use time in the House to say nothing.
At some point, whether in committee or in the House, he needs to answer instead of making statements that are obvious to everyone. We do not have certain information on specific issues. I have been asked questions about the sponsorships program. We asked him how many files were under investigation. How many files were transferred to the RCMP? How many charges have been laid in relation to the sponsorship program?
Yet, the Solicitor General never has anything to say about these issues. That is when he should be making statements. But today, what new policy did he announce? What is the organization or department that he could have created to deal with the problem of national security?
There was nothing new. He just wanted to take time in the House to make a statement in front of the television cameras. That is about the only time we get to see him these days, on television. He needs to answer our questions about various situations we ask him about, but when we do, he says nothing.
During a meeting of ministers of justice at the G-8 summit in Paris, he was ridiculed. All of the other countries were asking him, “What are you going to do about the national security situation in your country?” All the Solicitor General did was mention the measures he has taken, such as Bill C-36, the Anti-terrorism Act, or Bill C-17.
He takes his orders from the United States. We have lost some fundamental rights and we also have a problem with privacy rights. The Solicitor General has created nothing new. All he has done is tell us what has been done over the last year and a half. Is this a situation that should continue or should it improve?
In his statement we see that CSIS is doing some new work, that it is dealing with more information, which is completely false. Whenever he is asked questions on this subject in committee, the Solicitor General can say nothing. He hides behind the confidentiality of CSIS and we cannot get any information out of him.
This Solicitor General took up his position at a very critical time, but since then he has been very quiet, except for coming here to announce that another organization has been put on the list of terrorist entities. Today, he has told us absolutely nothing new in terms of policy.
Why is it that we cannot use codes like the United States does, if there are threats or dangerous situations on the horizon? They talk about code red, code orange, code yellow, to let the public know whether the threats are real or not. The Solicitor General has no vision and he does not inform the public, except to deliver a completely meaningless statement. I repeat: his statement is meaningless. All he has done is make a statement about something we have all known about for a year and a half.
When the G-8 justice ministers met, he could have been more specific. This Solicitor General said: “Before an identity card including biometrics and fingerprints, is issued, privacy issues will have to be considered”.
I was there and I can tell the House that when the Solicitor General raised this point, he was rebuffed by the representatives of the seven other countries, as well as the European Union. He did not even get up; he did not take up the torch and say, “We have to be careful when dealing with a misconception; we must not give the public a false impression”.
They are undermining fundamental rights; they are vindicating Bin Laden, who orchestrated a totally senseless act on September 11. Is Canada truly threatened? No one knows. We are told that there are potential threats.
However, in making useless statements and addressing this issue yet again, one year and one-half years after the fact, the purpose is not to alarm the public, it is merely an attempt to keep people informed, to ask them to stay on their guard and to tell them that we absolutely have to pass legislation to protect our nation and keep it safe. Come on.
The Solicitor General is only making these statements to open the door to other antiterrorism bills, such as Bills C-36 and C-17. Consider Bill C-17. Whenever people, whether it is you, I or one of my hon. colleagues, travel outside or inside Canada or Quebec, their personal information is collected just in case an officer suspects that such individuals have ties to terrorists. Come on.
Once again, the RCMP will use these lists to obtain information blindly, which goes against our privacy. No one here, in Canada or Quebec, will be able to ask that this information be removed if no such link to terrorists is found. The assumption here is that any of us could be a terrorist.
But once again, today, I am obliged to comment on such a hollow statement. Other things could have been discussed today, instead of this.
We know that there are potential terrorists throughout the world, particularly in free countries such as ours. But there is an attempt here to cost this country and Quebec all their hard-earned freedom and democracy because the current argument is based on hypothesis. If such situations do exist, we would ask that such information be provided when we ask for it. The same goes for the sponsorship program. The Solicitor General should answer questions, when asked.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Terrorism
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