Mr. Peter Julian (Burnabyâ€”New Westminster, NDP) moved:
That it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security that during its consideration of Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts the committee be granted the power to expand the scope of the bill in order to:
(a) ensure that the government works with Canadian communities to counter radicalization; and (b) enhance oversight of Canadian security and intelligence agencies.
Context : Point of Order
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of sympathy for the government House leader. He would have seen the motion of instruction, and it is important to cite at this point a motion of instruction. The bible that governs us, O'Brien and Bosc, not always followed by the Conservative side of the House but followed very exactly on this side of the House by the official opposition, says the following:
Once a bill has been referred to a committee, the House may instruct the committee by way of a motion authorizing what would otherwise be beyond its powers, such as, for example, examining a portion of the bill and reporting it separately, examining certain items in particular, dividing a bill into more than one bill, consolidating two or more bills into a single bill, or expanding or narrowing the scope or application of a bill.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, being no stranger to a motion of instruction, a motion of instruction may be moved in the House even after a committee has begun its deliberations on a bill. The government House leader sees this, knowing full well that this motion of instruction is perfectly in order, and he has to construct an argument. I have a lot of sympathy for him, which is why he, basically, created the massive paper tiger out on the front lawn of the Centre Block.
He tried to say that the motion of instruction says things that it does not. He referred to an agency and government spending. As you know, Mr. Speaker, what it says is very simple, that the committee be granted the power and that the scope be enlarged on this particular bill:
...to expand the scope of the Bill in order to: (a) ensure that the government works with Canadian communities to counter radicalization; and (b) enhance oversight of Canadian security and intelligence agencies.
It is a permissive motion of instruction, it is not obligatory. That is, unfortunately, the word that the government House leader neglected to mention that makes the difference between this being in order or not. Very clearly, this motion of instruction is in order.
One has to ask the question of why the government House leader just took 20 minutes of House time to try to stop a debate that would have taken perhaps half an hour or 45 minutes. The reality is, Mr. Speaker, as you know, there are two elements that the government House leader is acutely aware of, and that is why he wants to try to shut down this debate.
The first element is public opinion. When Bill C-51 was initially proposed by the public safety minister, public support was in the range of 80%, and that has dramatically fallen as debate has continued in committee. Now a minority of Canadians support the bill and a majority of Canadians disapproves of the bill. One of the key elements to that, of course, is the lack of oversight.
The other element that the government House leader is acutely aware of is the fact that 45 out of the 48 witnesses who appeared in committee, including 25 of the 28 Conservative witnesses who were brought forward by the Conservatives, where the Conservatives said they were their witnesses and would hopefully reflect the Conservatives' point of view on Bill C-51, 25 out of the 28 Conservative witnesses said there needed to be enhanced oversight.
This is what was discussed in committee. This motion of instruction ensures that the committee, in a permissive way, can look at enlarging the scope of the bill. This motion of instruction is absolutely in order and I think we can disregard the paper tiger that was constructed by the government House leader. He tried to imagine a motion of instruction that would be out of order and he has very effectively argued against that motion of instruction that he imagined in his mind, but what he imagined in his mind is quite different than what we have put forward on paper, and I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that you simply do what is the right thing in this case, which is to rule the motion of instruction in order so we can get on with the debate that Canadians are looking for.
Context : Point of Order
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, what we are considering here is that the committee be granted the power to expand the scope of the bill in order to ensure that the government works with Canadian communities to counter radicalization and enhance oversight of Canadian security and intelligence agencies.
The government House leader has basically invented a fictional new motion of instruction and has brought forward arguments to counter that fictional motion of instruction. That is not what is before the House and that is not what you are being asked to rule on.
Context : Point of Order
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, this is very clearly a delaying tactic on the part of the government. Why are the Conservatives so concerned about having a debate around oversight in this House of Commons and having a motion of instruction? Why are they so concerned about that? Canadians who are watching on television right now should be asking the question as to why they are so concerned with oversight when so many of their own witnesses before the Bill C-51 public safety committee actually said we need more oversight.
I just wanted to counter what is the paper tiger that the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has created. He has created this massive paper tiger that has nothing to do with the motion of instruction. He talks about programs. He talks about agencies. This is all a figment of his own imagination.
The royal recommendation argument, for a number of reasons including the argument that the member for Ottawaâ€”Vanier has just raised, is absolutely irrelevant. The idea that there are agencies and programs in this motion of instruction simply does not hold water. It is easy to refute the government House leader because he has created a motion of instruction that does not exist.
What is before us now is perfectly in order and I hope the government will stop its delaying tactics and allow us to have the debate on oversight on Bill C-51.
Context : MotionsDebate
It is well documented. It has not just been the NDP that have opposed this, even though the Liberal Party is, tragically, supporting Bill C-51.
It is also the fact that across the country we have seen an unprecedented outpouring of concern. Over 100 of Canada's leading law professors, 100 of the most skilled law professors in the country, those legal minds that in a very real sense train the future generations of legal scholars, have all come out in opposition to Bill C-51.
The Canadian Bar Association, tens of thousands of Canadian lawyers, has come out in opposition. Many human rights groups have come out in opposition.
They have all raised very similar concerns. It is important to note that the bill was rammed through the House of Commons. We can recall that the government introduced closure after only a couple of hours of debate, wanting to ram it through as quickly as possible.
Then it was brought to the public safety committee, where the committee used what can only be considered as completely unparliamentary tactics to throw out the rule book, to throw out House of Commons Procedure and Practice under we are governed, the bible under which we are supposed to govern our actions. They threw that out and basically imposed a very shortened witness list that did not even include people such as the Privacy Commissioner who obviously has a real stake in bringing forward recommendations around how a bill might be treated.
After all of that, the government only permitted a short list of 48 witnesses. That was perhaps a quarter of the number of witnesses who wanted to come before the committee. Of those 48 witnesses, 45 of them actually stated that oversight was a major problem with this bill. The lack of oversight was a fundamental flaw.
Of those I mentioned a little bit earlier, 28 were Conservative witnesses. These were brought forward by the Conservatives. The Conservative side of the House recommended these witnesses. We know how narrow the scope is for Conservative witnesses at committee. The Conservatives only hear witnesses that they believe are going to enhance their particular ideological world view.
Twenty-five of the 28 Conservative witnesses said the same thing. We had 90% of Conservative witnesses, 95% of witnesses overall, all saying the same thing, that oversight needed to be enhanced. So many of those witnesses raised the concern around having the Canadian government actively working to counter radicalization.
Even that smaller group of witnesses permitted by the government, one-quarter of the witnesses that should have been brought forward to committee, virtually all said the same thing, that we needed to enhance oversight and ensure that the government works with Canadian communities to counter radicalization.
That is why the NDP, as the official opposition, is bringing forward this motion of instruction today. What we are saying is the committee, which has had a Conservative majority up until now, is almost certainly a rogue committee. It has thrown out the rule book. I have come before you before, Mr. Speaker, to raise concerns about how the rule book has not been followed.
They threw out the rule book and now I believe, and the NDP official opposition believes, that we, as a House, have to give very clear direction that permits the committee to look at expanding the scope of the bill to bring forward those two components, ensuring that the government works with Canadian communities to counter radicalization, and enhance oversight of Canadian security and intelligence agencies.
These are straightforward, common sense recommendations. I would expect that members of the Conservative government would actually vote in favour of this motion of instruction, because it would actually say to those 25 out 28 Conservative witnesses who came forward that we listened, that they were brought forward to committee by Conservative members where they talked about enhancing oversight, and we actually listened.
Context : MotionsDebate
I just wanted to raise some quotes, both on the oversight and on the radicalization side, which are very germane to the debate we are having this morning, despite the government's attempt to stop the debate. First, I would like to quote the current Minister of Justice who in 2005 obviously agreed with the NDP today. His 2005 comment was:
When you talk about a credible oversight body I would suggest a parliamentary body is going to have more credibility because of its independence and because of the fact that there is also parliamentary accountability that will be brought to bear. To that end I suggest it would also cause a little bit more diligence on the part of the security agents themselves just knowing that this oversight body was in place.
That is the current Minister of Justice back in 2005, I guess when he could think outside the board. He actually raised the kinds of concerns the NDP is raising today in 2015. In 2005, the Minister of Justice would have been agreeing with the NDP.
Second, we have the privacy commissioner, who was denied the ability to go before the public safety committee to testify on Bill C-51, which is absolutely shameful. He said:
The proposed changes to information sharing authorities are not accompanied by measures to fill gaps in the national security oversight regime. This act would seemingly allow departments and agencies to share the personal information of all individuals including ordinary Canadians who may not be suspected of terrorist activity.
On radicalization, I know intimately what the lack of any real attempt to work with Canadian communities to counteract radicalization has meant. The mosque that is in my riding in Burnabyâ€”New Westminster was the mosque where the man who murdered Cpl. Nathan Cirillo attended. I travelled to that mosque within a couple of days of what happened on October 22 here on the Hill. What the mosque members told me was quite stark. They said they knew he had profound mental illness. They knew he had a drug addiction. They tried to seek help and there was nothing available. This is something we have heard from communities right across the country. It is just a common sense measure that the committee should be taking into consideration, and can take into consideration if we pass this motion, that allows some ability to counter radicalization. The committee should be working to ensure that.
There are two quotes I would like to cite.First is a national security law expert from the University of Ottawa, Craig Forcese. He said:
The literature suggests when it comes to radicalization the best tool might actually be what is known as programs that are designed to steer persons away from taking that one last step from radicalized world views to actual violence.
That is something the committee should of course be taking into consideration.
We have also heard from the White House. President Obama has stepped forward to look to counter radicalization. He said:
We have seen attacks over the last several years in which consumption of propaganda or through communication through the Internet played a role in the radicalization of the attacker. The federal government will work to make communities more resilient to these messages of hate by raising awareness and providing tools. Informed and resilient communities are our nation's first and best line of defence.
That is what the NDP has brought forward today. We have said that we should be enlarging the scope and that we should grant the power to the committee to expand the scope of the bill to ensure that the government does work with Canadian communities to counter radicalization and to enhance oversight of Canadian security and intelligence agencies. The polls tell us about 60% of Canadians support those measures and do not believe that Bill C-51 passes those tests at all.
I would ask our Conservative members opposite, and the Liberal members that are supporting Bill C-51 as well, to take into consideration what the witnesses said before committee. Ninety per cent of Conservative witnesses and 95% of all witnesses said we need to enhance oversight. Many of them also said we need to have the government working with communities to counter radicalization.
These are common sense measures. I hope all members of the House will support this motion of instruction.
Context : MotionsQuestions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, the ruling has already been made. It is very clear in O'Brien and Bosc that comments on a motion of instruction have to carry on the motion of instruction itself. The Speaker has ruled, it is very clear in O'Brien and Bosc what the member should be asking in his question, and I hope that he will actually stick to the parliamentary rule book and follow the rules.
Context : Routine
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, safety is paramount for the government, which is what the member just said, and yet it has made cutbacks in food safety programs that have put Canadians' safety at risk. We saw the appalling lack of oversight on rail safety that led to Lac-MÃ©gantic. What an incredibly appalling and irresponsible series of actions by the government. There are 1,200 missing and murdered indigenous women and the government said it is not going to take any actions, it does not care, there is not going to be a public inquiry.
Anyone on the government side of the House who says that safety is paramount to the government opens itself up to the very simple series of facts that shows the government has not seemed to care at all about the safety of Canadians, and seems to be proving it each and every day. That is tragic for Canadians.
Context : MotionsQuestions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, of course we agree. That is why the NDP has brought forward a very comprehensive series of amendments that we would hope the government would be looking to adopt, if the government were being responsible. That is why we are bringing forward the motion of instruction today as well.
However, there must be some sort of reflection on the part of Liberal members. The Liberal members have heard the same witnesses that NDP members have heard. They have seen the same outpouring from across the country of people opposing this bad legislation. Liberal members are saying it is bad but they are going to vote for it. That simply belies any common-sense approach to this legislation.
As the Leader of the Opposition has said a number of times, principle has to count for something. The Liberals should be voting against this legislation. Until they say they are going to vote against this legislation, that they are going to fight for changes but if those changes do not come they are going to vote against this legislation, they will have no credibility in their discussions around this bill.
Context : MotionsQuestions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, 25 out of 28 witnesses that were brought forward to the public safety committee by the Conservatives said that the member is absolutely wrong. They said that enhancing oversight was of fundamental importance. They raised the issue of ensuring that the government works with Canadian communities to counter radicalization.
I am beginning to see what a vast disconnect there is between members of Parliament from the Conservative Party and the witnesses it invited to the public safety committee. It is not even listening to its own witnesses, let alone the public. It is listening to nobody, and that has to change.
That is why the Conservatives should be supporting this motion of instruction from the NDP. We have been listening to the public and we have even been listening to Conservative witnesses. We have been doing their job for them.