This is typical of an NDP member. I am expressing a point of view and the Hon. Member is endeavouring to shout me down. At least get in your own seat if you are going to shout me down, so that if you have a point of order you can raise it. Frankly, I found the approach adopted by the NDP at committee reprehensible.
I basically disagree with the position taken by the Progressive Conservative Party which indicated that it would like to see this security service returned to the RCMP despite the decision of the McDonald and Mackenzie Commissions, and the decisions made by the Senate and the Government, for that matter.
What approach did the Conservatives take? I thought that the Member for Vancouver South (Mr. Fraser) asked a series of very pertinent questions at the committee stage. He raised the issue and it was debated at committee. Although they lost the vote, they made their point. We were able to have a reasonable debate. But what did we see from the NDP? They sought amendments to delete clauses of the Bill. There were 300 amendments brought in at the committee stage. What does that do for democracy? It ruins any opportunity for any kind of debate.
I basically disagree with the judgment of the Progressive Conservative Party on this particular Bill. I do not believe the service should be returned to the RCMP. No one has more respect for that particular agency than I. I had the privilege of working with the RCMP when I was Minister of Employment and Immigration. We had to deal with security matters and had to rely in large measure on the judgments and decisions of the RCMP. I was satisfied that we received excellent briefings and that the reports which I received had been carefully thought out before I was asked to make a decision.
In order to complement that particular protection of civil liberties of Canadians or of others coming to the country, I saw fit to appoint a board. It was made up of three members, a former civil servant, a former Cabinet Minister and a former judge of the Supreme Court in Quebec. They were to study the
evidence that had been presented to me to determine what weight I should give to this material. I had no other way to check other than relying on the RCMP and the judgment of these three senior Canadians whose judgment I respected.
That is what we are looking for in the security service. We are seeking a "delicate balance", as I believe it was put by the Senate committee. We must have an indication that the information that comes before us has received all the necessary screening. I believe the report from the Senate committee was one of the better reports from the Senate that I have had the privilege to read. That Senate committee and the McDonald Commission indicate that a civilian agency is the proper medium for this particular service in Canada.
Hon. Members opposite say that they did not really have an opportunity to study this matter at committee. The fact of the matter is that the Minister has indicated that he was at approximately 24 committee meetings. In each instance the Minister indicated why the Government could not accept a particular amendment. Those reasons made eminently good sense, which Hon. Members opposite knew. In some instances they could not accept those reasons and they appropriately brought forward amendments when they could not accept that reasoning. I know that in many instances they accepted the Minister's reasons. However, likely in an attempt to delay the Bill, they saw fit to move a whole series of amendments. I am specifically referring to the New Democratic Party. We discussed many of these amendments at committee stage. Again, it was a complete waste of members' time. What is the point in having committees if every amendment that is presented at the committee stage is presented again at the report stage?
I hear Opposition Members talking with approbation about the American experience. American witnesses appeared before the committee. We had a particularly good witness from the security section of the American Government. She told us that they tried to introduce a Bill which provided for everything necessary to protect all rights and prevent any interference. That Bill collapsed under its own weight. There were so many qualifying phrases in the Bill in an attempt to protect civil liberties that the Americans ultimately had no Bill at all. Therefore, that country has a presidential edict. The Attorney General of the United States indicates what is to be done.
We do have accountability in our Bill. I think the individuals who will be called upon to look into the actions of the other security service will recognize their responsibilities. They will be well respected Canadians, I am certain. They will require the approval of the Leaders of the Parties in the House of Commons, so there is significant accountability in this Bill.
I for one am happy that, after some five years, we will have another look at this Bill. Others will do that because I will not be here. They will look at whether it has worked. They will look to see if there have been any infringements of or intrusions into the civil liberties of Canadians. I do not think we have to quote other individuals to tell us whether this Bill is good or bad. I think we are hired and retained by our
June 19, 1984
constituents to come here and look at legislation. What Members opposite, particularly those in the New Democratic Party, do not recognize is that Bills are gone over and over again at the caucus stage before they see the light of day. We have long, serious and sometimes it might be called great debate before a Bill sees the light of day. This lets us do all that is possible to apply the necessary delicate balance to the necessity for having a security service and yet not encroaching upon the civil liberties of Canadians, at least beyond that provided for in the Bill. As well, the committee can say to the security service: "You are accountable to us and we will be reporting to Parliament".
Bill C-9 is a good Bill. It is sad that we had to use time allocations, but frankly, there was no other way to get this Bill through given the farce presented by the New Democratic Party.
Topic: HARBOUR COMMISSIONS ACT
Subtopic: BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE