Here is the written question Mr. Cotler asked the government in February, and the response received last week.
Hon. Irwin Cotler:
With regard to 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: (a) what studies, reports, or other documents were consulted by the government as part of the process of developing the legislation; (b) what groups or individuals were consulted by the government as part of the process of developing the legislation; (c) when did each consultation in (a) and (b) occur; (d) who carried out each consultation in (a) and (b); (e) in what way was each group or individual in (b) consulted; (f) by what process was the legislation reviewed to ascertain whether any of its provisions are inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; (g) what officials at the Department of Justice participated in the process in (f); (h) what groups or individuals outside the Department of Justice participated in the process in (f); (i) what changes were made to the legislation as a result of the process in (f); (j) did the government seek opinions from any group or individual outside the Department of Justice about whether any of legislation’s provisions are inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; (k) from what groups or individuals did the government seek the opinions in (j); (l) when did the government seek each opinion in (j); (m) when did the government receive each opinion in (j); (n) what was the cost of each opinion in (j); (o) who in the government determined that the legislation is consistent with the purposes and provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; (p) on what basis did the individual or individuals in (o) make that determination; (q) has the government evaluated the likelihood of any of the legislation’s provisions being challenged before the courts; (r) what is the result of the evaluation in (q); (s) on what basis has the government made the evaluation in (q); (t) has the government evaluated the likelihood of any of the legislation’s provisions being struck down by the courts; (u) what is the result of the evaluation in (t); (v) on what basis has the government made the evaluation in (t); (w) how much money has been or will be set aside to cover the cost of litigation related to challenges of the legislation before the courts; (x) how did the government determine the amount in (w); (y) when were instructions given regarding the drafting of this legislation; (z) how long did those drafting the legislation have to consider any constitutional impacts of the legislation; (aa) were any constitutional concerns raised during the legislative drafting process and, if so, (i) what were these concerns, (ii) how were they addressed, (iii) by whom were they addressed, (iv) when were they addressed; (bb) apart from any analysis pursuant to section 4.1 of the Department of Justice Act, in what ways did the government assess the constitutionality of this bill; (cc) in what ways did the Minister of Justice undertake to verify this bill’s constitutionality; (dd) were any outside legal opinions sought relative to this legislation; (ee) in total, how many employees reviewed this legislation with a specific mandate to ascertain its constitutional compliance; (ff) what are the policy rationales for this legislation; (gg) in what ways did the government consider whether alternative policies might attain the objectives in (ff); (hh) what impact will this legislation have on the provinces and territories; (ii) if any provinces or territories were consulted, (i) when were they consulted, (ii) how were they consulted, (iii) in furtherance of what objective were they consulted; (jj) how much will this legislation cost to implement; (kk) do resources exist to implement this legislation effectively and fully; (ll) what is the basis for the government’s response in (kk); (mm) by what means will this legislation be monitored and evaluated for its effectiveness; (nn) by what means and how often will this legislation be reviewed; and (oo) by what metrics will the government determine whether this legislation, once enacted, has made Canadians safer?
Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, the international jihadist movement has declared war on Canada. Canadians are being targeted by jihadi terrorists simply because they hate our society and the values it represents. The Government of Canada rejects the argument that every time security is discussed, somehow freedoms are threatened. Canadians understand that there can be no liberty without security. Canadians rightly expect the government to protect both, and that is precisely what the anti-terrorism act, 2015 would do. The fundamental fact is that police and national security agencies are working to protect Canadian rights and freedoms. It is not they who seek to take away freedoms, but rather the jihadi terrorists. Canada will not sit on the sidelines, as some would do, and is instead joining the international coalition in the fight against the so-called Islamic State.
With regard to (f) and (cc), pursuant to the Department of Justice Act, section 4.1, the Minister of Justice is required to examine every government bill presented to Parliament in order to ascertain whether any of its provisions are inconsistent with the purposes or provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If the minister believes that the legislation is inconsistent, it must be reported to Parliament.
Proposed government legislation is reviewed for charter and other legal risks throughout the policy development and legislative drafting processes. The process of examining government legislation for charter compliance is dynamic and ongoing. Section 4.1 is only one part of a broader process that involves three distinct components: advisory, certification and reporting. The advisory component takes place throughout the policy development process, up to and including the introduction of legislation.
With regard to (nn), the Government of Canada believes that independent, expert, non-partisan oversight of national security agencies is a better model than political intervention in the process. Further, the key powers of the anti-terrorism act, 2015 would be subject to judicial review and judicial authorization.