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Irwin Cotler, MP

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Debate on Bill C-51 (Anti-terrorism Act, 2015)

Posted on May 5, 2015

Hon. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I have two questions for my colleague. I want to commend her for remarks.

The member made reference to the absence of judicial oversight. Is there any oversight capacity in this legislation?

The second question has to do with the provision regarding the seizure of terrorist propaganda. There is an offence just before that in the Criminal Code which criminalizes the promotion and advocacy of terrorist acts. I ask the member whether that also seeks to criminalize private conversations, et cetera.

The Deputy Speaker

The member for Saanich—Gulf Islands has about a minute and 15 seconds.

Ms. Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief and I appreciate the questions from my hon. colleague from Mount Royal.

First of all, is there any oversight in the bill? It is a short answer, no. There is no oversight in the bill. We have oversight again being specific operational knowledge of what agencies are doing. By the way, there is no supervisory agency for the Canada Border Services Agency. The RCMP does have a review agency, but no oversight. CSIS has review, but no oversight. CSEC has no oversight. Now we are giving CSIS brand new powers that could interfere with and actually derail RCMP operations with no oversight. As one security expert who testified before the Senate recently said, we will be “sitting on top of a tragedy waiting to happen”.

The second question is very different. The section that we find on page 26 of Bill C-51, proposed section 83.221, as amended, changes very definitely what propaganda is, what terrorist propaganda is. We have now enough law and jurisprudence to understand the meaning of the word “terrorism”. It is well defined. There is no definition provided for this new term “terrorism in general”. Neither is there any adequate explanation because none was offered at all as to why private conversations are not excluded. Nor does it make sense to say that terrorist propaganda means any writings, signs, visual representation or audio recording that promotes terrorist offences in general. No one will know how to operationalize this act and as a result, it could actually allow people to be prevented from stopping someone from engaging in terrorist activity.

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