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Speech in Senate Chamber: Second Reading of Bill C-51 Anit-Terrorism Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Runciman, seconded by the Honourable Senator Beyak, for the second reading 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.

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I would like to join in this debate for a very few minutes.

I wish to register, as I always do, my concern that this debate has been abbreviated and unduly abridged. I will say yet again, as I always do, that these time-allocation motions may only be moved by ministers. Only they are allowed to make such motions in this place. I shall note, again, there is no minister of the Crown in this Senate. That is one of the conditions for these time limitation motions. The other one is that the matter before the house must be urgently needed, and of course urgently needed for the public interest.

Honourable senators, I record these thoughts from time to time in the hope that somebody may take an interest and uphold that these tools to abridge debate are supposed to be used rarely and for exceptions.

Colleagues, I must say that I have been taking a look at Bill C-51, and because I served on the national parole board, and had some experience in the business of dealing with people in the administration of justice as they moved through the system and the processes of clemency, mercy and, of course, paroles.

In many years of what I would describe as substantive and substantial experience, I have never encountered anything as that which is articulated in proposed section 12.2 at page 49 of this bill that Senator Baker alluded to. Interestingly, I had this bill open on my desk and I wanted to ask Senator Baker a question about it. I should put this on the record.

I shall read clause 42. I am speaking about part of this bill for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and of the necessity for amendments to this bill. As we know, the intelligence service was separated from the RCMP and set up and constituted as CSIS. I believe it was in 1980.

Now, clause 42 of this document states that the act, meaning the CSIS Act, is amended by adding the following after section 12. In the margin note, it says "Measures to reduce threats to the security of Canada." This proposed new section 12.1(1) reads "reasonable grounds to believe" — to believe. Let us understand "belief" is quite different from "knowledge." It states:

If there are reasonable grounds to believe that a particular activity constitutes a threat to the security of Canada, the Service may take measures, within or outside Canada, to reduce the threat.

The margin heading says "Measures to reduce threats to the security of Canada."

Honourable senators, if we look to the bottom of the page, we will come to proposed section 12.2, which Senator Baker read into the record. This is called "Prohibited conduct." This is very interesting, colleagues, because why would anyone in drafting a proposed statute like this, in respect of reasonable grounds to believe that there is a particular activity, a constitutional threat, why does the drafter go into the conduct of the security officers?

This is a huge mystery. I have never read or seen anything like this in my entire life, and I have read a lot. Of course, I went to the dictionary to look up the meaning of "conduct" because we know "conduct" usually means behaviour. In effect, we are passing into statute a law about how CSIS officers will behave or should behave. If we look at "conduct," it says, behaviour in its moral aspect. I am looking at the Concise Oxford English Dictionary. It also says: "the action or manner of directing" business.

I thought I should also look to see what Webster has to say. "Conduct," in the Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary, says, "Personal behaviour;" a way of acting; "deportment." Do you remember when we were young and we went to the best schools? We received awards for good deportment. This clause is about how CSIS officers will conduct or behave themselves.

So I still read the whole section then, the proposed section:

12.2(1) In taking measures to reduce a threat to the security of Canada, the Service shall not

(a) cause, intentionally or by criminal negligence, death or bodily harm to an individual;

(b) wilfully attempt in any manner to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice; or

(c) violate the sexual integrity of an individual.

Colleagues, do we have a problem with security officers in the service of CSIS exercising and doing such things? Do we need to put a statement like this in a statute? What has happened or is about to happen that has provoked a clause like this in a statute? Are there CSIS officers that are behaving themselves in this way? Because this is articulated as behaviour. Do we need a statute — to do what? To prevent it? Statutes usually do not prevent behaviour. These actions are always retrospective. That's the nature of the Criminal Code. It treats bad deeds committed in the past. The Criminal Code comes in after the offences happen. You prosecute under the Criminal Code.

Honourable senators, I am just hoping that this does not mean what I think it means, and I'm hoping that those individuals on the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs will look into this in a very profound and deep way. Any time a clause shows up in a bill, it is usually for a reason. I think we should make it our business to find out what the reason is in this instance. From where I am looking at it, this is very suspicious. In addition to sounding suspicious, it is undesirable and it doesn't speak well about those men and women who serve in our intelligence service.

Honourable senators, we now talk about security, but when I was younger we used the words "spies" and "spying." But this clause is an indictment and offensive to all those good people who are currently serving. So I would like it to be investigated and examined in committee. I have never seen anything like this move in a federal statute.

Honourable senators, there is much about the bill that disturbs me. I want to support what Senator Jaffer and what Senator Dyck said. There is no doubt that persons who are visible minorities will have a fallout effect from this bill. Recently, the large concern is with Muslim peoples and Arab peoples, but it was not that long ago that these concerns were all about Black people. Back in the 1960s it was not uncommon that the fears were about Black people.

Honourable senators, I wish and I hope that the Senate committee will do its utmost best to improve this bill, which sounds more like a public relations exercise than actions to protect the health, well-being and safety of Canadians. Colleagues, I find this bill very disturbing. I hope that senators will see it to be as disturbing as I find it.

I thank you, colleagues. That is all I wish to say on that matter. I was not planning to intervene. I just thought I should record my very strong objections. I find that clause extremely offensive. If there are Canadian individuals in CSIS who are acting in that way, we should know about it. I am sure that those who lead that organization would want to know. But the real question is: What is the need for this clause and why has someone decided to put something like this into a statute? Who is defending whom against what?

I thank you.

The remainder of this day's Senate Debates are available here.