Bill C-59: Information obtained through torture

On Tuesday, November 21st, 2017 in Debate, Parliament

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, it is clear to me that Bill C-59 is spotty in addressing some issues that were found in Bill C-51 extremely well.

Here I refer to part 3 at the time and its “thought chill” provisions, including the bizarre notion of terrorism in general on the Internet being an offence that could land someone in jail if that person could not understand what it is. This bill fails quite seriously.

On the information section, Professor Craig Forcese has made the point that we need to know that any legislation in Canada will not allow information about Canadian citizens to be shared with foreign governments in a way that imperils their safety. A lot of the bill appears to come from the decisions on the Maher Arar inquiry and on the Air India inquiry.

Regarding my hon. colleague’s reference to torture, my disappointment is that no one seems to have focused on part 5 of Bill C-51, which amended the immigration act. Professor Donald Galloway of the University of Victoria was the only one to fully understand that section and to ask what Bill C-52, part 5, was trying to do in amending the immigration act. The conclusion was that it aimed to give information to judges for security certificates without having to inform them that the information was obtained by torture. I wonder if the member for Victoria has any insights as to where that section has gone, because no one is fixing it in Bill C-59.

Murray Rankin – Victoria

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands for her thoughtful perspective on part 5. There are nine parts to this omnibus bill, and part 5, as she pointed out, is the amendment to the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act.

This morning the minister was proud to speak about Craig Forcese and Kent Roach as validators of this great initiative, but when they gave their report card it was indeed this part, as the member suggested, that caused them the most concern. While they liked parts of the bill, they graded part 5 as a bare pass, as they put it, because it simply did not address the concerns that people like Professor Galloway have addressed from the start. This is one of the areas that needs a considerable amount of work.

The other one, of course, is the need for judicial warrants. It is so unclear just what the courts’ powers are in light of the charter. We certainly need to get that right as well, because to suggest that our courts can somehow be in favour of what would be the promoters of charter violations is hugely problematic in a system that is governed by the rule of law.

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