Bill C-59 is a substantial improvement over the “secret police act” of 2015, Bill C-51

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that so many changes have been made to our anti-terrorism legislation, which are reflected in Bill C-59. I have stood in this place a number of times and complained that the government held consultations but did not listen. I am happy to say that this is not one of those times.

I submitted an extensive brief to the joint consultation, headed by the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety. When I read Bill C-59, I felt very gratified that this legislation was drafted with an eye to the recommendations of the commission of inquiry into the Air India disaster and the failure of our security system at that point resulting from our agencies’ inability to talk among each other to share information that could have prevented that terrible tragedy. It also appeared to me that the drafters paid attention to the results of the inquiry into the atrocious treatment of Canadian citizen Maher Arar.

There are still weaknesses in this bill. I would have preferred, as the hon. member knows, to remove any kinetic powers from CSIS. Its power to disrupt plots may still prove to make us less secure than we were, given that CSIS was originally intended to be about information collection only, and it left the RCMP to take action on the ground for kinetic activities.

Overall, this is a substantial improvement over the situation in which we found ourselves in 2015 with the speedy passage of what I still call the “secret police act” or what was then Bill C-51.

This is a comment, more than a question to my hon. colleague, just to say on the record that I am pleased to vote for Bill C-59, although I would have preferred we had gone further and removed more of the things launched in Bill C-51.

Pam Damoff – Member for Oakville North-Burlington

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for her participation in the committee as we were doing clause-by-clause. I recognize that it is very difficult for her to attend these committee meetings, and certainly the clause-by-clause on this bill did take some time, and took her away from other tasks she could have been working on. Her input is always appreciated by me, personally.

We will always have a divergence of opinion on getting the right mix, but this bill has come a long way, and the changes we made have been well-received by the community.