Parliament: Question on C51, C22 and the Parliamentary Security Committee

On Monday, March 20th, 2017 in Debate, Parliament

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my friend and hon. colleague, who is now the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety. I certainly hope that his experience as parliamentary secretary for public safety will not be as frustrating as it was to be parliamentary secretary for democratic institutions. I highly doubt that the government plans to pull the plug on this legislation in the next 24 hours, so it is bound to be a bit more rewarding.

All levity aside, I support this bill. It is an important piece of legislation. It is absolutely the case that when Mr. Justice O’Connor and others testified in hearings on Bill C-51 in the 41st Parliament, the failure of Canadian governments over time to have parliamentary oversight of security operations and security entities was drawn to our attention numerous times. He quoted Craig Forcese, who is one of Canada’s leading experts, as is Kent Roach. They would prefer to see additional improvements to this bill, as would I, but I appreciate that important amendments were accepted at committee.

Would the parliamentary secretary be able to give us an update on what is being done to remedy the egregious multiple affronts to security and safety in Canada that came forward in Bill C-51? I opposed Bill C-51, not primarily because it offended Canadian civil liberties, although it does, but because it created silos in the views of people like Mr. Justice O’Connor, where CSIS would have information and have no obligation to share it with the RCMP and no obligation to share it with CSEC. Really, Bill C-51 makes us less safe, and the faster we can get rid of all of its various elements, potentially other than part 2, the better off we will all be.

 

Mark Holland - Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, I share my hon. colleague’s concerns. Before I address the concerns as they relate to Bill C-51, I will speak to the bill that is in front of us, Bill C-22. It is important to note that there would be a five-year mandatory review. While we are ahead of the Commonwealth and while we think, after the committee’s recommendations and the listening that we did across the country, that we have a very good bill, there is a mandatory review process to make sure we could look at how effective this committee is being and how we could improve it. We do not hold this out as perfection, but we do feel that this is the right place to start.

On the issue of changes and when we can expect them, the committee at this very moment is considering a report on the security and intelligence framework. We want to hear from that committee. It has done incredibly important work. It has heard from witnesses across the country. That committee report is going to be a very important input into the minister’s overall process on responding. We have very clear platform commitments on what we feel needs to be changed and improved to get right that simultaneous work that needs to be done to protect Canadians and also to ensure that their rights are also protected.

The committee report is coming out. I would expect action by the government very shortly thereafter, informed by that process.

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