Combating Terrorism Act (Bill S-7)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend is also a neighbour in the riding of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.

On a related but different point, I want to thank him for raising in question period yesterday the need to support our firefighters. Motion No. 388 went through, although we seem to have no action to bring it into place, and that relates to terrorist acts, as we noted in the Boston Marathon. Everyone was amazed to see the first responders run toward danger when everyone else was running in the other direction.

However, I stand with him in finding, despite my concerns about terrorism, that this current law, Bill S-7, goes too far, and that the existing tools and law in the Criminal Code are more than adequate. I stand with the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Association of University Teachers, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, the international civil liberties organizations, as well as with the concerns expressed at committee by the Canadian Bar Association, in believing that the bill potentially violates our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and will therefore be struck down later.

I wonder if he could comment on the futility of passing laws in this place when there are significant doubts that they are charter compliant.

Randall Garrison: Mr. Speaker, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands and I stand in somewhat the same place on this issue. The NDP has had this question for a long time. When legislation is introduced, the Minister of Justice has a responsibility to certify that it would not violate the charter, but the minister has set a very low bar: we have heard reports that if there is even a 5% chance that the law will be upheld in the courts, the government is willing to go ahead and introduce that bill.

I also want to thank my colleague for raising the issue of first responders. The Conservatives say that we have the resources we need, that we have done the things we need to do. Firefighters would be one of our most important resources in any terrorist attack and they were one of the most important resources in Boston, so it shocks me that in this country we have failed to implement a compensation fund for the families of fallen firefighters. The only argument made by the government yesterday against this fund was that it would be simply too expensive. I was disappointed to hear that argument. It was quite a shocking statement, because the tragic loss of firefighters has a cost, and right now those costs are borne by their families.