Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to comment on the minister's statement on security, which is a very important issue in this country at this time.
Unfortunately, the minister's statements this morning do not give any indication that the country's security has improved.
It is wonderful the minister has come here this morning to tell us that he recognizes his obligation to report to this House and to report to Canadians about the state of security. Unfortunately, he has not provided the necessary assurances that we are looking ahead. This seems to be very much a status quo report of what has happened since the time of the threat to North America being augmented by the attacks on Washington and New York City. We need to be as cognizant of the fact that the world has changed substantially and that with these changes we must be proactive in meeting the challenges head on.
The threat of terrorism is real, as the minister said, but it exists beyond our own borders. The attacks on the United States have been a harsh reality check for everyone. We need to work cooperatively with all elements of security around the world. We have to be very proactive, as the minister has recognized by ending financing of terrorism. We must ensure that no one is left with the inaccurate opinion that Canada is a safe haven for terrorists.
As we have witnessed in the past number of days with a warning from our closest ally south of the border, the United States, we must work cooperatively to enhance the exchange of information among nations if we are to succeed in eradicating terrorism. We must be diligent in our own security forces in ensuring the sharing of information between our forces here at home, and finding ways of intensifying and accelerating the exchange of operational information, especially regarding the movement of terrorism, forged travel documents, traffic in arms, the use of communication technology and the possession of weapons of mass destruction by terrorist groups. This is an ongoing challenge, admittedly, and our intelligence agencies in Canada have worked very diligently but under sometimes strained circumstances. I would suggest their resources do have to be increased significantly.
As American Ambassador Paul Cellucci said quite recently, security trumps trade. We must be cognizant of the broader implications for not acting upon the current situation. We must commit to work closely with the United Nations and other international organizations, including the G-8, in the fight against terrorism. Clearly, it does not stop at our border. In so doing, the ultimate goal should be the protection of the Canadian public and a warning system that provides advance notice against threats to North American security.
The national extension of NATO is a security perimeter, a North American security perimeter, and is a policy I believe we should examine. CSIS works with over 230 foreign agencies in over 130 countries, but this government can do more to facilitate action against terrorism. I believe we should certainly be examining the need for CSIS to have a presence abroad that would include foreign intelligence gathering capability.
The Anti-terrorism Act, Bill C-36, which is now in effect, does give the government strong powers, powers which provide the government the ability to create the list of terrorist entities that are currently based on intelligent reports and information. A balanced approach must be always be taken, however I believe this capability has not been used effectively since this act's inception. The information must be accurate at all times and acted upon to serve its basic purpose.
This alone is not enough. We must see the inclusion of the 26 terrorist entities on the list as a positive move, but Canada must embrace a spirit of cooperation with other countries to regard this as a very real action against terrorism. A strong North American security perimeter will be needed and Canada must work closely with our North American partners to develop such a plan.
There are a number of ways in which we can build upon the excellent work of the men and women who are tasked with the security of Canada. Ports police should be examined. We should very much move toward securing the ports of North America and Canada. This alone is perhaps the biggest threat to North American security, with the number of container ships that move into Canada every day, the amount of traffic that comes into these ports and the ability to bring anything from child pornography to a nuclear bomb into this country. I do not want to sound alarmist but with the number of containers coming into Canada we have to do more to secure our ports.
Targeted resources for our Coast Guard, military and frontline law enforcement must be pursued. This is a strong priority at this time in our country's history. We need strong, effective leadership on this account. I would urge the Solicitor General to make strong representations to his cabinet colleagues to increase resources in these areas. This will be the basis for providing Canadians with a plan of action, a plan of action in response to the cowardly acts of terrorism at home and abroad.
We applaud the job of CSIS but we realize as a nation that we must maintain our resolve and we must stand with those individuals; stand on guard for all Canadians.
The Solicitor General has an important historic role to play in Canada's future on this file. We wish him well in this regard. We appreciate him bringing this information before the House.