Tuesday, April 21, 2015

C-51 Update: Comments in the House, and when Third Reading Might Occur

This is a quick post to update those interested on where bill C-51 currently stands.

After a second day of action across Canada (rallies in many cities across the country on Saturday, similar to those that took place on March 14th - I was at the one in Halifax, because I was attending the Atlantic Security Conference the day before) various sources had expected the bill to go through its third and final reading before the House of Commons this week. Guesses as to when that would be were as early as this past Monday, but the projected order of business shows no sign of it on the list of activities for this week. That may have changed by the time you read this, but it was true when I wrote it.

Which might make one think that the Government is reconsidering its position and, as I suggested in my presentation, might be willing to let the bill die on the order paper as the original CSIS act (1983) did when civil liberties groups protested. The senate then spent the summer revising the bill and a version that was much better emerged and was passed in 1984 (according to Roach and Forcese's Senate testimony - search for "1983"). Except, based on statements made in the House on Monday, there doesn't seem to be much change in the Government's position. Maybe there's more thoughtful consideration going on behind the scenes, but here is the full text of the three questions asked to Minister Blaney about C-51 on Monday:

Randall Garrison (NDP - Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC)
Mr. Speaker, Canadians in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria, and many other communities gathered together this weekend with one common goal: to urge the government to stop Bill C-51 from becoming law.

They recognize that this legislation will be ineffective, dangerous and that it undermines Canadians' rights and freedoms. Why does the minister not listen to them and withdraw this legislation?

Steven Blaney (Conservative - Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness)
Mr. Speaker, Canadians know they can count on our government to keep them safe. That is why we are making sure that our police have the tools they need to keep Canadians safe.
We are of the view of the witness who came to committee and said that legislation is important to combat radicalization. We need better tools to try to track jihadists who travel overseas.

Ms. Raheel Raza is the president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow. We share her views and we will deliver.
 (The bolding there was mine - but the use of singular rather than plural was not :-) 1 witness of 48... and this same witness was concerned with CSIS overreach)
Rosane Doré Lefebvre (NDP - Alfred-Pellan, QC)
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have managed to get unanimity across the country. Canadians are unanimously opposed to the government's anti-terrorism bill.
In cities such as Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Vancouver and Ottawa, thousands of people have protested against Bill C-51. Members of first nations, unions and experts across the board are telling the Conservatives that this legislation is unnecessary and dangerous.

When will the minister listen to Canadians and do the right thing: drop Bill C-51?

 Mr. Speaker, our government will continue to take responsible measures to fight terrorism by preventing terrorists from boarding planes, by allowing parents to know that their child is being radicalized, and by shutting down sites that promote terrorism.
Common sense measures are supported by Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent's sister, who came here to Ottawa to call on all parliamentarians to stand up and protect Canadians from terrorism.

David Sweet (Conservative - Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON)
Mr. Speaker, Canadians are very concerned at the reports coming out of Montreal that two ISIS inspired extremists have been detained for plotting to engage in terrorist activity.

We all recall the horrific terrorist acts last October when Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo lost their lives at the hands of cold-blooded jihadi terrorists.

Could the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness give this House an update on what our Conservative government is doing to combat terrorism?

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale for his excellent work and his important question.

I also want to thank our RCMP officers for their work, working hand-in-hand with police officers and with other agencies to keep Canadians safe.

This is a stark reminder that the threat is real, that we need to take action and make sure that we have the resources and the tools that are needed to keep Canadians safe. Canadians can count on the Conservative government to take action.

PS: Randall Garrison and Rosane Doré Lefebvre were both representatives for the NDP at the C-51 committee hearings.
PPS: Monday is the latest day for which transcripts of the proceedings of the House were availabe when I was writing this post.
PPPS: The delay means you still have time to contact your MPs, or write a letter to the editor. If you're not sure how to go about this, OpenMedia has a handy form, which provides tips but doesn't put words in your mouth. And if you would like me to check a letter for factual correctness (with the proviso that I'm not perfect, just doing my best) I'm willing to do a few per day as time permits) just send your draft to c512015commentary@gmail.com