Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Okanagan—Shuswap for bringing this bill forward. As he mentioned, this was a bill that I introduced in the first session of this Parliament and because of my appointment as parliamentary secretary, my bill had to be withdrawn, although it did make it to committee. Therefore, I would hope that members will expedite this process so we can get this to committee, where it was a year ago.
Sitting here listening especially to the Liberal member really was disappointing. At no point did he mention the victims, not once. It comes back to this whole ideology of the Liberals about hugging the thug, about trying to protect the criminals rather than protecting Canadians and those victims.
The title of the bill is “respecting families of murdered and brutalized persons act”. It is work that I started some time ago, and I am very happy that my friend from Okanagan—Shuswap has taken on this task in the House to ensure that families do not have to go through unnecessary Parole Board hearings and be re-victimized time and time again. Let us ensure we have our hearts in the right place, that they are with the families that have already lost their loved ones and now have to relive the horror of the most heinous criminals who have not only murdered their child or family member, but may have abducted and sexually assaulted them.
The bill would amend section 745 of the Criminal Code. I have to stress that Bill C-587 is about empowering our courts with the ability to increase parole ineligibility when sentencing individuals who have abducted, sexually assaulted and killed our innocent and often most vulnerable Canadians from the current 25 years up to a maximum of 40 years. It is at the discretion of the courts. They make the decisions on whether to take it up any higher.
The bill is not about creating stiffer penalties for these sadistic murderers. These depraved convicts do not qualify for parole. We have already mentioned that. The worst case criminals who are in prison, these half dozen individuals who have been alluded to, never make parole. They never ever get out of jail. However, the reality is that families still have to go, every two years, starting at year 23, to hear the tragedy of their child or loved one being abducted, kidnapped, raped, sometimes tortured, and then murdered. We want to put an end to that. The bill is about saving the families of victims from having to go through this agony of attending these unnecessary and traumatic experiences at Parole Board hearings.
Again, we have said that this is not about mandatory minimums. This is about empowering judges and juries in coming to reasonable decisions on parole ineligibility.
Let us talk about this. Is this constitutional? Does it comply with the charter? The fundamental principle of sentencing is that a sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender. The seriousness of the offence as set out in the bill would ensure that parole ineligibility, period, would only be applied in cases where the murderer's moral blame worthiness would be very high for abduction, sexual assault and murder. This would allow for judicial discretion and would ensure charter compliance because it would not be mandatory minimums.
This goes back to Bill C-48, which used the same principle, protecting Canadians by ending sentence discounts by multiple murderers act. It is important to note that the NDP supported that bill back in 2011. That, in itself, is noteworthy. If it was okay to support it in Bill C-48 back in 2011, I would hope the NDP would support that same principle when it applies to these most heinous criminals.
Jim Maloway, who was the NDP member at that time for Elmwood—Transcona said:
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to what is now is Bill C-48 [...]. I essentially support the bill, which our critic, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, has already indicated that our party supports. In fact, all opposition parties support the bill. [...]
I guess one of the good things about the bill is that it does leave discretion to the judge, which opposition members have been consistent in supporting in the past. Perhaps the government recognized that by allowing the judge discretion it made it certain that the bill would actually go somewhere in the House.
The compliance section that we are concerned about is section 12 of the Charter, and by going the route that is presented in Bill C-587, providing that judicial discretion makes it charter compliant. That is key.
As we are saying, this is about the most heinous and horrendous individuals we have in Canada. We are talking about Robert Pickton, Paul Bernardo, Russell Williams, Michael Rafferty, Terri-Lynne McClintic, Clifford Olson, Donald Armstrong, James Dobson, David Shearing and, just recently, Luka Magnotta. These individuals are repulsive in our society. They have committed the most tragic criminal acts on an individual that people could ever imagine. Yet, there is argument coming forward that they should only have to sit there for 25 years. We know that they sit there longer because they never ever make parole eligibility. They are never put back into society.
In the sentencing of David Threinen, in 1975, Justice Hughes, who was the judge at the time, stated he should “never again should he be on the streets and roadways of our country”.
If judges already see how repulsive and dangerous these offenders are, then they need to make sure that they are never released back into society.
When we look at Robert Pickton, he was convicted of multiple murder charges, 25 counts, but unfortunately they were only second degree murder charges. That means 10 years. In 10 years, he can start attending his parole board hearings. He will probably never be released, but that means that 25 families are going to be reading victim impact statements at parole board hearings every two years, in a matter of a couple of years from now. That is sickening.
One of the reasons I was thinking about this case is that a few years ago I was in my riding listening to the Tori Stafford case. She was the little girl who was abducted, raped, and murdered. It broke my heart. It involved Michael Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic. After they stole her from school and sexually assaulted her, they killed her with a hammer. Terri-Lynne McClintic got a life sentence, in 2010. Michael Rafferty got his life sentence. Tori Stafford's family, in 25 years, should not have to start reliving that murder, that abduction, that sexual assault, every two years from there on in.
We talked about Russell Williams, who abducted, raped, and murdered Jessica Lloyd and Marie-France Comeau. We talked about Clifford Olson.
I have to thank Sharon Rosenfeldt. I got involved with her and her organization, Victims of Violence. She supported the bill right from the beginning. Her son Daryn was murdered. My friend has already talked about how Daryn was killed and how they were retraumatized.
I also have to thank Susan Ashley, who also provided me with support and ideas for the bill, and Yvonne Harvey, from the Canadian Parents of Murdered Children, for their work on this bill as well, and ensuring that Canadians are aware that this was coming forward.
Finally, I want to thank Senator Boisvenu, who founded the organization Murdered or Missing Persons' Families' Association because of his own person loss, for his support in ensuring that the bill will go forward on the Senate side.
Again, I would ask that members of this House to support the bill and get it to committee so it can be given the proper study.
Mr. Speaker, I started at Dalhousie law school in 2001, and in my second year I took family law with the great Rollie Thompson, one of the foremost thinkers on family law in Canada. If he is watching right now, he is laughing out loud at home because I said that; but he is a great thinker when it comes to family law, and I was really lucky to be able to take that class with him.
There is one thing he drilled into our heads over and over again. Yes, it is the law, but he made sure we fully understood what it meant, and that was the best interests of the child. We talked about different scenarios and hypotheticals, such as what we would do if we were judges with a certain case in front of us and how we would make the decision. We talked about the best interests of the child, because when it comes to conflict about custody and access in Canada, the paramount guiding principle under the Divorce Act, and also in many pieces of provincial custody and access legislation, is the best interests of the child.
What does that mean? It does not mean mom; it does not mean dad; it does not mean grandparents. It is the bests interests of the child. I point out that it also does not mean children across the board. That was a tricky thing for us to understand as law students. The question was not what the best would be for the children, writ large; it was this child who stood before us, who had a specific case, a specific family situation in a specific geographic area of Canada. There were all kinds of different considerations, such as socio-economic considerations, and it was about this child before us.
When we consider the best interests of this child who stands before us, there can be many different possibilities under the legislation. There can be equal time. Equal time is allowed under the Divorce Act. There can be sole custody by one parent with access by another parent. There can be sole custody by one parent and no access by the other, because it may be determined that in the best interests of this child, he or she should not have contact with a parent. There are all kinds of circumstances where that occurs.
Shared custody is an option as well, and it is even possible to have a scenario where a child has a different set of circumstances from that of his or her sibling. Again, I come back to the idea that it is not about what is best for children; but it is this child, not his or her brother or sister; this child. It goes back to the idea that the most important thing that we consider is the child standing before us, and that is the root of the law when looking at family law and how to deal with custody and access. It is beautiful and elegant. It is an elegant concept. Let us forget about who lives where and who has more money or anything like that. What is the best scenario for this child?
The bill before us would instruct judges to find a presumption of equal sharing of parenting responsibilities. This could be rebutted. It is a rebuttable presumption if a party can show that the best interests of the child would be “substantially enhanced” to do otherwise. Even if I thought this bill was a good idea or creating this rebuttable presumption was a good idea, which I do not and I will explain why later, this is a significant departure from Canadian family law. It is a significant departure. Even if I thought this was a good idea, in no way could anyone possibly think that something as significant as this concept, this reversal, this rebuttable presumption, should be changed through a private member's bill.
I know I am talking process here, but process is important. Not everybody knows that private members' legislation is different. It gets very limited debate. There are two hours at second reading and maybe a couple of days at committee. One would think a couple of days is big, but a committee meeting is just two hours. Then there are two hours at third reading. Therefore, we are talking about four hours of debate in the House.
The best interests of the child is the cornerstone of our federal Divorce Act, the cornerstone of custody and access laws provincially, and part of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is something to which Canada is a signatory, and we cannot possibly think that four hours of debate would be sufficient for changing this concept.
The mover of the bill is speaking to this bill; I am speaking to this bill; there is a smattering of other MPs who are speaking tonight; and that is it. We are just going to have this four hours of debate. Members cannot think that there is enough thought or insight or discussion here tonight that could support this fundamental change to family law. That is in the make-believe world where I think this is a good decision.
However, I do not support this bill. I do not support it in any way, shape, or form, thanks in large part to the constant drilling of the best interests of the child by Rollie Thompson, my family law professor. This is the most important concept.
I am going to quote the Canadian Bar Association.
The Bill would represent a disservice both to children and families by: taking the focus away from children in favour of parental rights detracting from the individual justice required by the Divorce Act and promoting further and more fractious litigation.
Litigation; we often hear how we need to change the Divorce Act. We need to change this idea of best interests of the child because there is all this litigation and it is so difficult. Yes, it is difficult. Of course it is difficult. However, there are lots of avenues for parents to take, so they do not actually have to resort to litigation.
When the focus is on the best interests of the child, it makes parents take stock for a minute. It makes them take a deep breath and focus on their children, rather than themselves. With this concept, they are more likely to put aside their differences. They are more likely to put aside their self-interest and to work to a resolution that works for their family.
This bill would actually make that consideration of the child secondary. I cannot support a law that is going to make the child second.
In coming up to this debate, I was contacted by a constituent of mine. He asked me to support this bill. He shared a heartbreaking story, a truly heartbreaking story of his situation with his ex-spouse and kids. He told me about how sole custody was used as a weapon against him and held out as a reward for his ex-spouse.
We are contacted often by people who want us to support legislation or to not support legislation, vote for or against, but his story really did stick with me. It was a very difficult story to read. There are always individual situations that do not fit or somehow do not work, but when I looked at his situation and he told me about everything he had gone through, I could not help but think about how much different his situation would be if we had support for parents, if we had access to justice, if people could actually access the courts and have legal representation.
I think that the goal of this bill, which is co-parenting, would be better served by greater funding for parental education, for access to justice, for access to legal representation and to counselling services. It would be better served by those things than it would by this bill.
I do not have a lot of time left. In doing research for this bill, I found there is a fantastic paper put together by the Canadian Bar Association. It was about a previous incarnation of this bill. I remember when this bill was introduced in the last Parliament. I was deputy justice critic, and my colleague the member for Windsor—Tecumseh was justice critic. We met with lots of folks to talk about the implications of this bill.
I will say the CBA discussion paper is fantastic. I wanted to quote from it, but I probably do not have a lot of time. I am going to make one quote. It talks about this committee that existed in Parliament, a special joint committee on child custody and access.
The Committee recommended: a series of criteria defining the best interests of the child, among which would be the principle that children benefit from consistent, meaningful contact with both parents, except in exceptional cases, such as those where violence has occurred and continues to pose a risk to the child. Whether an equal time-sharing arrangement is in the interests of a particular child would have to be determined on a case-by-case basis, with a full evaluation of the child's and parents' circumstances. ...the Committee said that “legislation that imposes or presumes joint custody as the automatic arrangement for divorcing families would ignore that this might not be suitable for all families, especially those with a history of domestic violence or very disparate parenting roles”.
I know my time is up. I thank the Speaker for being a little lenient.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and join the debate on Motion No. 456, on palliative care.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, over the past five years a number of parliamentarians from all parties joined together to produce the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care report. I joined as a co-chair with the member for Guelph and also the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, whom I believe you know very well. It was a real honour for me to join with that group and many other colleagues from all parties to produce the report on palliative and compassionate care.
I want to read a bit of the introduction of that report to give Canadians an idea as to how this came about and the actual work that was done. It states:
The Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care (PCPCC) is an ad hoc, all party group of MPs, dedicated to improving care for elderly, dying and vulnerable Canadians. It is unique in the history of the Canadian Parliament as it was formed by the MPs on their personal initiative and funded out of their member office budgets.
The committee is an example of what is possible when MPs work closely across party lines on issues of profound concern to everyone. The spirit of non partisan collaboration exhibited by the members of the committee is a great example of what parliament is at its best.
Receiving testimony from hundreds of people at twenty four hearings, and local round tables, MPs were profoundly impressed by the dedication and depth of concern expressed by Canadians for issues surrounding the way palliative and compassionate care is practised in our country.
Also, over the course of this study, I had the opportunity to visit different palliative care places and hospices across the country. One that sticks out in my mind was when I visited a hospice in the riding of Sarnia—Lambton. My colleague there hosted us for one of the round tables and then we visited the hospice. I was deeply moved by the compassion and empathy that the medical personnel, especially the doctors, showed for their patients, as well as the nurses and other support personnel as well.
These kinds of examples are multiplied across the country. Our task is to see that these are replicated in many more communities, especially in our rural communities, across Canada. This is at the heart of what the motion, and the recommendation of the committee, is all about.
Our government recognizes the growing need of Canadians for compassionate end-of-life care. There is no doubt that care should be there when people really need it, but it should also be the best care possible and made available at a reasonable cost to Canadians.
Despite the fact that most people say they would prefer to die in the comfort of their own home, the truth of the matter is that about 60% of Canadians spend their last days in a hospital setting. This is clearly not the preferred place to be, for a variety of reasons. Care at the end of life in hospitals can take a toll on patients, their families and other caregivers and is particularly taxing on the health care system. Additionally, it has implications on hospital wait times for emergency services and may limit the availability of hospital beds.
One of the solutions to address this issue and its unintended consequences is palliative care services. Palliative care focuses on relieving suffering and improving the quality of living and dying. It benefits people of all ages dealing with life threatening conditions, such as AIDS, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Palliative care treats the physical, psychological, social, spiritual and practical needs of the person who is dying. It also recognizes the needs of that person's family and other loved ones.
While many people associate palliative care with hospices and hospitals, it can be delivered in a variety of settings, including long-term care facilities, or even in one's own home. Again, I would just like to refer to a quote from the report, which states:
The palliative care philosophy is person-centred, family-focused and community-based. The philosophy moves us from disease or condition specific care to person-centred care. No longer will we refer to “the cancer patient in bed 4A” or “the heart patient going down to pre-op” or “the broken arm in 6B getting a cast”.
One doctor, Dr. John Meenan, from Kitchener, Ontario stated, “Doctors need to move beyond the model of glorified mechanics—
Mr. Speaker, as always, it is a great honour to stand in this House, having been given the honour to represent the people of Timmins—James Bay who put their trust in me.
I want to thank my colleague from Guelph for his support for our motion, my motion, Motion No. 456, but also thank the New Democratic Party for its push to establish a national palliative care strategy.
This is an issue that transcends partisanship because it touches each one of us, and it touches us in our most personal and sacred space, which is the moment between life and death and the moment when a family deals with the loss of a loved one.
I would be remiss if I did not thank for their excellent work all the parliamentarians of all political parties in this House who have worked on the issue of palliative care.
Certainly, the language of the motion comes from the work of the all-party committee, with my colleague from Kitchener—Conestoga, my colleague from Guelph, and my colleague from Windsor—Tecumseh.
My colleague from Guelph talks about the need for a conversation. I think this is what a motion is. A motion is a statement of principle and a statement of intent by the Parliament of Canada. It can be a very profound moment when parliamentarians are asked to say what it is that we need in order to move forward as a country. Certainly, we recognize, in this federal House, that the delivery of health services in this country is better served at the provincial level. We understand the jurisdictional divisions in the country, and they make sense because, as we move health care closer to the ground level, we can certainly see more proactive and better results.
However, in terms of palliative care, we are faced with a problem because there is a patchwork response right now. All too often, on the issue of palliative care, we see it is considered some form of charity or it is volunteer work, as opposed to an essential, fundamental principle, in terms of where we need that health care in the 21st century. Particularly as we deal with an aging population, as my colleague from Vancouver East has pointed out again and again, the future of health care will be moving more and more out of the hospitals and into the need to have an understanding of ongoing care to ensure that all Canadians have the quality of life they need, particularly when they are faced with a traumatic illness.
Therefore, the mission statement that we are asking for, as all parliamentarians here, is to say that in this House, this federal House, we have a role to play in talking about what palliative care should look like. It is not to dictate how it will be delivered, but we can play an essential role, a powerful role, as a federal government in saying there are models that work.
We see in various parts of the country that the delivery of palliative services is done in an integrated fashion, and where the services are integrated, families are able to receive the care and the support they want and need. However, where the services are not integrated, this money is still being spent. In fact, I would argue, and medical doctors would agree, that we are spending more money and yet people are still falling through the cracks.
So, the palliative solution is the common-sense solution staring politicians in the face. They just need to say, at this time, that we need a political will to talk about end-of-life care.
I would like to say that when we mention “palliative” to Canadians, they suddenly think, “Oh, God. Why are you talking about death?” It will do us good, I think, to look at some of the fundamental definitions, for example, used by the Canadian Medical Association.
When it talks about palliative care, the word “death” is not there. It is about life. It is:
...an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification, assessment and treatment of pain and other symptoms, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.
I would also point out the definition of “dying with dignity”, which has been a term that we see often in the media. The Canadian Medical Association says:
“Dying with dignity” indicates a death that occurs within the broad parameters set forth by the patient with respect to how they wish to be cared for.... It is NOT synonymous with euthanasia or physician assisted death.
This is a very powerful statement that the Canadian Medical Association has brought forward for us.
I would like to speak a little bit about the amendment that was brought forward by my colleague from Vancouver East, who has been so committed to the issue of ongoing care and has done much more work on the issue of palliative care than I have over the years. In her amending language to this, she would clarify:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should establish a Pan-Canadian Palliative and End-of-life Care Strategy by working with provinces and territories on a flexible, integrated model of palliative care that: (a) takes into account the geographic, regional, and cultural diversity of urban and rural Canada as well as Canada’s First Nation, Inuit and Métis people; (b) respects the cultural, spiritual and familial needs of all Canadians; and (c) has the goal of (i) ensuring all Canadians have access to high quality home-based and hospice palliative end-of-life care, (ii) providing more support for caregivers, (iii) improving the quality and consistency of home and hospice palliative end-of-life care in Canada, (iv) encouraging Canadians to discuss and plan for end-of-life care.
Tonight, I would just like to focus for a second on the importance that we recognize in the House the cultural, spiritual, and familial needs of families. This is not just about the individual. The death of a loved one and the passage through to that other place is one of the defining moments in the life of a family. When there is palliative care and support, it can be a very transformative moment. When the support is not there, it can be a moment of crisis that families sometimes never recover from.
I would like to say that this motion, as I said at the beginning, is not about the partisanship in the House. This has been a very bitter and toxic Parliament, but we all need to say that we are going to put some of our own political agenda aside.
I know that some of my colleagues in the Conservative Party are made nervous by the word “strategy”. The strategy is the language that came from the all-party committee, and I certainly believe that the notion of strategy is important. Some of our Conservative colleagues would prefer to use the word “framework”. It does not matter to me if it is a strategy and/or framework. What matters is that we stand in this House and say that we will support this.
I would like to try to find a way that, tonight, we can make an agreement. I would like for us to find the language that makes everyone comfortable so that we will all stand in the House. No matter what happens with this motion, we have to show Canadians that we understand this.
The simplest way to do this is to ask for unanimous consent for the following motion: that, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, the amendment to Motion No. 456 standing in the name of Ms. Davies of Vancouver East be deemed adopted, and that the main motion as amended be further amended by adding after the word “Strategy” the words “and/or Framework”.
Mr. Speaker, it was with great sadness that we all learned of the passing of a tremendous parliamentarian and Canadian last week, the Right Honourable Herb Gray.
It has been my great honour to represent the same seat that he held for nearly 40 years. During his time here, my region enjoyed the great privilege of being represented in this place by a man of dignity, character and depth.
Mr. Gray was one of a kind and served with a specific flair that could be described as understated, but nevertheless he commanded respect.
The uniqueness of his career manifested concretely in many ways. He was the first Jewish cabinet minister in Canadian history. His nearly 40 years of service in the federal legislature makes him one of the longest serving MPs ever. He is among only a handful of Canadians who did not serve as prime minister to be afforded the honorific of Right Honourable.
What is truly remarkable about his career is that he had the unquestioned respect of his colleagues across party lines. As a parliamentarian one of Mr. Gray's most defining attributes was his insistence to put his community at the centre of his work. Whether it was on the auto file, a critical industry in Windsor, or on development of our waterfront, Mr. Gray was there all the time. Even after he chose to leave electoral politics, he continued to remain engaged in the significant issues impacting our region, working to protect the Great Lakes as the Chair of the International Joint Commission.
Mr. Gray was a man of great intellect with an incredible and distinctive ability to engage his colleagues in the House. His performances in question period are legendary and affectionately earned him the nickname the "Gray Fog", an homage to his ability to reframe and rebuke opposition remarks and questions. I think he may be credited with inventing the term, “I reject the premise of the member's question”, a line we continue hear in this place on a regular basis.
In Windsor, the Herb Gray legacy will live on for generations. We are already taking specific steps to tangibly commemorate his legacy with public art and infrastructure bearing his name, but his impact can be felt at a more personal level when we consider the number of citizens he impacted in the community. Whether it was inspiring people or constituents he assisted, he leaves behind an indelible mark in the social fabric of my community. With that, I want to thank all of his staff and volunteers for their service.
To the family, his wife Sharon and children Jonathon and Elizabeth, along with the member for Windsor—Tecumseh and the New Democrats, and on behalf of this entire House, I want to offer my sincerest condolences and thank you for sharing Mr. Gray with us.
As well, to friends and extended family of the Right Honourable Herb Gray, I want to thank you for supporting his tremendous service to the community we shared and the country we love.
Obviously, I am very nervous doing this. It is out of genuine respect for a man that our community loved and misses.
That the House express its deep concern over reports that Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) has been actively and illegally monitoring Canadians and call on the government to immediately order CSEC to cease all such activities and increase proper oversight of CSEC, through the establishment of a National Security Committee of Parliamentarians as laid out in Bill C-551, An Act to establish the National Security Committee of Parliamentarians.
Mr. Speaker, I am most pleased to take lead off in this debate. I will not reread the motion, other than to say that the motion is critical of what we believe to be the illegal monitoring of Canadians by CSEC and that the House sees that issue as such.
Secondly, it is to propose a solution, which is better oversight in Canada of our intelligence gathering agencies. We are the only country in the so-called “five eyes” that does not have an agency of parliamentarians that provides that oversight in a proactive way.
The purpose of this debate is twofold. The first is to draw attention to the very possible, at worst, illegal activities, and at best questionable activities, of the Communications Security Establishment, or CSEC, and the government's response to the obvious excessive behaviour of our intelligence services. Second, it is to outline for Canadians the proposal for the creation of a proactive oversight body of parliamentarians of our security and intelligence agencies and organizations.
I would like to put on the record that the structure of such an oversight body was developed by members of the House and the Senate. Among those who participated in the creation of this proposed oversight agency were the current Minister of Justice and the current Minister of State for Finance. At the time, they were members of the opposition, and along with you, Mr. Deputy Speaker of the House, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, we were all a part of that committee that made that recommendation.
To be clear, what is proposed in the legislation, brought forward as Bill C-551, is the result of a non-partisan initiative. It was neither a government nor an opposition party effort. We in this place were all involved, and I will come to that later in my remarks.
However, allow me to come back to why the need for such oversight has become an urgent matter for Canadians. According to media reports and Snowden documents, as has been reported in the media, CSEC has been, and apparently continues to be, actively intercepting and retaining information related to individuals, Canadians and otherwise, who are transiting through major Canadian airports. That is where that information has been gathered. We are led to believe that this activity was done without the co-operation of the airports involved.
I think Wesley Wark, who is the visiting professor with the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, at the University of Ottawa, summed it up best. I will go to a document that he prepared and quote what he states in that document, the CSEC defence of its airport metadata project:
CSEC issued a statement on January 30, 2014, immediately following the reporting of the Airport Wi-Fi project document by CBC. That statement noted, “CSEC is legally authorized to collect and analyze metadata”.
That statement, according to Mr. Wark, may be misleading, insofar as there is no independent and external legal authorization for CSEC's metadata activities. There is no special court similar to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that has authorized CSEC metadata. All one can say is that CSEC metadata activities are conducted under a secret ministerial directive and in accordance with secret Department of Justice interpretations of the application of the provision of CSEC's legislative mandate. There is no internal legal interpretation of whether CSEC is able to collect and analyze metadata that has ever been made public.
I think Mr. Wark lays out the issue and the concern.
Yesterday in this House, and on Friday as well, several MPs from opposition parties raised questions with the Minister of National Defence on this particular issue. His answers, as all who listened know, were not very forthcoming. He fell back on the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner for cover, and basically said, in a number of different words, that CSEC operated within the law, using the words “continues to act lawfully”.
In terms of what the commissioner said, I say to the minister, “Not so fast. Maybe. Maybe not”.
When we go to the last report of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner, the report for 2012-13, presented to the minister in June of last year, the commissioner says, on page 20, under “Findings and Recommendations”:
However, a small number of records suggested the possibility that some activities may have been directed at Canadians, contrary to law. A number of CSEC records relating to these activities were unclear or incomplete. After in-depth and lengthy review, I was unable to reach a definitive conclusion about compliance or non-compliance with the law.
There is a concern. The Communications Security Establishment Commissioner raises that concern in his report.
It should be also noted that when Mr. Chuck Strahl, the former chair of SIRC, which is the oversight agency for CSIS, who has now stepped down—we will not to get into the reasons why he stepped down, but I will say that I do think he was a good chair for that committee—appeared before the national security and defence committee of the Senate, on December 9, 2013, this is what he had to say:
What we're finding, increasingly is that CSIS is having to engage other partners in order to get the information they want. We can examine anything that CSIS does. What we have highlighted and made note of is that we are increasingly nervous or wary of the fact that you come up to an imaginary wall, if you will, where we examine everything that CSIS does, but now it involves other departments. It might involve a no-fly list. It night involve CBSA or CSEC, and so on, but our authority extends only to CSIS in our review process. So I think the committee is, and the government would be, wise to look at—and it's a modern reality—how we can make sure that we don't, when we're chasing a thread and trying to make sure that Canadians' rights are being protected, run up into the legislative wall of saying, “Well, yes, but you can only look at CSIS, even if the new thread continues on into CSEC,” as an example. That is one thing I would encourage you to think about.
There was a worry there, on the part of Mr. Strahl.
Yesterday, because of the publicity around this issue and the concerns of Canadians, we had the Prime Minister's security advisor, a man who many of us in this place did not even know, and the heads of CSIS and CSEC, called before the Senate committee over this very issue.
Mr. Rigby spoke, and I listened to his remarks, as I was at the committee, of how broad and global security matters are now. We understand that. We understand that security is an important file.
However, we also have to understand the counterbalance: how important the privacy of Canadians is.
In response to questions from the chair, Senator Lang, about the Wi-Fi airport metadata, Mr. Rigby said, “It is data about data”. He said that several times, “It is data about data”. Well what does that mean? Stating that it is data about data leaves the impression that there is not much to worry about. Anybody who reads history knows how those with power and authority can gain personal information and use it for ulterior motives. We do not want to see that happen in this country.
Let me turn to this metadata issue. Many of us do not understand what “It is data about data” means. The best information on that really comes from the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner, Ms. Ann Cavoukian. She produced an article for the Big Surveillance Demands Big Privacy conference that was held about a week ago. I will cite a fair bit of that article, published on July 17 of last year, because we need to understand that metadata is not just data about data. Metadata is much bigger and could be much more intrusive into Canadians' lives. Indeed, the BlackBerry or cellphone of some member on the other side may have been one of those surveyed, when going through the airport. Do people want to know where he or she went? Did they want to follow that thread? That is worrisome.
Ms. Cavoukian stated:
Senior government officials have defended the seizure of our personal information on the basis that “it's only metadata.” They claim that gathering metadata is neither sensitive nor privacy-invasive since it does not access any of the content contained in associated phone calls or emails.
She went on to say:
Metadata is information associated with other information—generated by our smartphones, personal computers and tablets. This information can reveal the time and duration of your communications, the particular devices used, email addresses or numbers contacted, and at what locations. Since virtually every device has a unique identifying number, all of your communications and Internet activities may be linked together and traced, with relative ease.
The digital trail can reveal a great deal about you as an individual. Information about where you live, work, travel, what you purchase online, who you associate with, even what time you go to sleep, wake up and leave home.
Government surveillance programs, however, gather and analyze our metadata for different purposes. Armed with this data, the state has the power to instantaneously create a detailed digital profile of the life of anyone swept up in such a massive data seizure. Once this data is compiled and examined, detailed pictures of individuals begin to emerge. The data can reveal your political or religious affiliations, as well as your personal and intimate relationships.
She goes on from there, but that is the important point.
I have to ask a question for the government representatives. Is metadata really just data? Is it data about data?
What worries me is that maybe Big Brother is just sitting to the right of the Speaker. That is worrisome, if Big Brother with the current government gets out of hand.
In a press release, the Minister of Natural Resources said:
Unfortunately, there are environmental and other radical groups that would seek to block this opportunity to diversify our trade....
These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.
Are they environmental radicals or are they just citizens who are protesting?
In the early seventies, when there were blacklists created from some organizations in this country, I happened to be in one of those organizations. Those threats are real. In today's information age, we cannot let this get out of hand. We have to worry that security is not used to cross the line into privacy matters.
I want to make another point on the conference I attended, with respect to the statements by Andrew Clement, who is the co-founder of the Identity, Privacy and Security Institute. He said in his remarks that so much Canadian data passes through the United States in this day and age. He explained that if we were in a downtown Toronto office sending a packet of information across the street to another office, with the three major telecom companies, that information does not just cross the street. Rather, it goes from Toronto, to New York, to Chicago, and back to Toronto; so other authorities can pick up that information, analyze it, and see what we are up to. There is a lot to worry about here. We do not want to scare people, but the reality is that something could be going on that should not be going on.
Let me now turn to the proposed legislation. However, there is one other point I should make before I go there.
Canadians have a right to expect that their government and government agencies act legally and that their right to privacy is respected. In the case of CSEC, we are faced with an agency that has enormous powers to intrude upon the lives of all Canadians and those who are visiting the country. The appearance of three very powerful folks before the Senate committee yesterday is a case in point. Those faces are not known by Canadians, yet they could be involved in our everyday lives in many ways. However, we must not forget that they also do a great service for Canadians in protecting our security as a nation.
Therefore, I believe that we in this place have a duty to ensure that our intelligence-gathering agencies are acting within the law and that we also have the assurance from the government that there has been no abuse of the authority granted to the minister under the provisions of the National Defence Act.
I see I am running out of time so I will make this last point. What is proposed here is an oversight agency made up of parliamentarians. We are the only country in the western world that does not have a proactive oversight agency. The proposed legislation has come out of an all-party committee that travelled to London, Washington, and Australia to look at their oversight agencies. Parliamentarians would have to take the Privy Council oath, would have to maintain that secret, and would have access to classified information to ensure Canadians, in a proactive way, that our intelligence-gathering agencies are operating within the law and not above or around the law. It is important that we do that. I call upon government members to take this opportunity to take action to ensure that our security agencies are operating as they should, not with a review after the fact but by holding parliamentarians responsible for doing their duty to ensure that intelligence-gathering agencies are abiding by the law. That bill is there right now. The government can pick it up and we can ensure that it is implemented.
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-551, An Act to establish the National Security Committee of Parliamentarians.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce a bill, which, if passed, would establish the national security committee of parliamentarians. I would note that this bill has been presented to this House on a number of occasions, beginning with Bill C-81, introduced by the then Liberal Minister of Public Safety.
This legislation would ensure that Canada's intelligence gathering community has the kind of proactive oversight already in place in a number of world jurisdictions. This legislation is required on an urgent basis.
I would remind the Minister of Justice, the Minister of State (Finance), and the member for Windsor—Tecumseh that they, on behalf of their respective parties, endorsed the national security committee of parliamentarians in a 2004 report. Therefore, I would hope that this legislation would move forward on an urgent basis.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
The electoral district of Windsor--Tecumseh (Ontario) has a population of 118,478 with 85,287 registered voters and 240 polling divisions.
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