IN THE HOUSE ~ Question ~ on conservative government's anti-terrorism bill C-51

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    M. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NPD): Monsieur le Président, il est maintenant évident que les conservateurs n'ont jamais eu l'intention de réellement débattre du projet de loi C-51. Aussitôt commencé, aussitôt bâillonné. Il n'y a eu que quelques heures de débat, alors qu'il est question de la sécurité et des libertés fondamentales des Canadiens. C'est ridicule.

    Pourquoi le gouvernement tente-t-il de balayer ce débat sous le tapis? Pourquoi le rouleau compresseur? Qu'a le gouvernement à cacher aux Canadiens?

    Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, CPC): Mr. Speaker, let us look at this in the current context of things. This is a bill that is aimed specifically at protecting Canadians from the evolving threat of terrorism. One only needs to turn on the nightly news to see what is happening around the world and what has in fact happened here in our own country. We will have debate in the House. The bill will move before a committee where we will hear from experts on the subject of terrorism, but we want, on behalf of Canadians, to put more tools in the hands of our police to allow them to protect our country with proper oversight.

    Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the irony, of course, is Conservatives would actually benefit the most from more debate on the bill since there seems to be so much confusion among their ministers about what is actually in it. The Minister of National Defence claims that Bill C-51“doesn't give new powers to police or intelligence agenciesâ€�. Now if he has not read the bill, I can assure him that Bill C-51 dramatically expands the powers of CSIS and that CSIS decides whether any judicial approval is ever needed.

    Does the government understand the consequences of the bill it has tabled and why are Conservatives trying to ram through a bill that they obviously do not understand?

    Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, CPC): Mr. Speaker, we understand full well that over 80% of Canadians support these new measures. We understand full well that these are practical, commonsensical measures designed to give police greater ability to protect Canadians in our communities through measures that are thoroughly requiring judicial oversight, through measures that will be given ample opportunity to be reviewed by Parliament.

    However, the reality is that we have a pressing need to bring forward these measures. There will be debate in the House. There will be scrutiny at committee. There will be testimony of expert witnesses to give their perspective on this important bill, but we need the bill now.