We need a single entity overseeing what all five of our spy agencies are doing

On Friday, June 8th, 2018 in Debate, Parliament

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, I also turn my mind back to September 11, 2001, where the member started his speech and I can share with him. He remembers that there were Canadians controlling NORAD.

A constituent of mine in my Rotary Club, Captain Mike Jelinek, was in command of what they call “the mountain” in Colorado at NORAD. It is an extraordinary story. Can anyone imagine being in more of a crucible of decision-making stress and yet keeping control? One of the things that a lot of people do not know, but that he shared with me, and it is public information, was why those in charge did not scramble military jets to shoot down the planes the hijackers had taken control of to aim at buildings. They could not because the hijacking terrorists had turned off the transponders. Therefore, what they saw on their radar was just a sea of dots, but the ones that were actually the hijacked planes had disappeared from view. That is why they had to make all of the planes in the airspace land, so they could then see what was going on. It is a very complex story.

I differ with my friend on Bill C-59. I was here for the debates on Bill C-51. I learned a lot from the security experts who testified at the committee. None of that advice was taken up by the previous government, but I will cite one piece of testimony that came before the Senate. Joe Fogarty is the name of a British security expert, actually a spy for the Brits, who had been doing work with Canada at the time. He told us stories of things that had already happened, such as when the RCMP knew of a terrorist plotters’ camp but did not want to tell CSIS, or CSIS knew of something and did not want to tell the RCMP.

John Major, the judge who ran the Air India inquiry, told us that passing Bill C-51 would make us less safe unless we had pinnacle control, some agency or entity that oversaw what all five of our spy agencies were doing. Bill C-59 would take us in the right direction by creating the security agency that will allow us to know what each agency is doing, because the way human nature is, and we heard this from experts, is that people will not share information, and Bill C-59 would help us in that regard.

Todd Doherty – Member for Cariboo-Prince George

Mr. Speaker, our hon. colleague speaks of that day. About two years after that day, I was representing Canada at the centennial of flight and I had the honour of being with some of our Canadian Snowbirds. One of the pilots I was with that night and I were talking about 9/11. One of the stories people do not tell is that there was a 747, loaded, coming over from Asia. It was right over Whitehorse and it was going to land at our airport, but we did not know whether there were terrorists on board. Our hon. colleague is correct. We did not know whether there was one aircraft coming or more aircraft that were coming loaded with terrorists. There was a lot of uncertainty. I relayed this story about the 747 and that we were preparing and scrambling all of the emergency vehicles. At one point, I said that it was very close to being shot down, and this pilot said, “It was literally seconds away because we were the jets that were scrambled and I was one of the jets that was scrambled beside this.” The threats are very
real.

To the hon. colleague’s comment, there is a lot going on that we do not know about. That is because we trust our organizations that when we go to bed at night, they will be doing their job and making sure that we are safe and sound, but they are sharing that information. I offered this, and our hon. colleague mentioned Air India and the sharing of data.

We must make sure that there is interoperability. I will remind folks very quickly in my closing remarks that everything we do in Canada impacts our relationships with our friends across the way. If we weaken our security laws here, we are going to see retaliatory measures on the other side whether in respect to goods or people. We need to make sure we are in lockstep with all of our partners, whether North American or international, in terms of security.

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