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Irwin Cotler, MP



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

Posted on February 18, 2015

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the member for Papineau for his excellent speech, and specifically for what he said on the relationship between security and rights. He made specific recommendations on matters regarding oversight and review. He also made reference to some of the overly broad language in the bill, so I would like to ask him a particular question.

Does he believe that this legislation, given its overly broad language, must have effective vetting to ensure that it comports with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Mr. Justin Trudeau:

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Mount Royal for his question. As always, he is deeply in tune with the issue of rights and gets right down to the heart of the matter.

In fact, there is some overly broad language in the bill that we will be recommending be tightened and clarified a bit so as to not paint an overly broad picture of national security risks to our country. There is also a need for ongoing oversight to minimize any excesses or challenges.

We have to understand that oversight is not just about checks and balances on our security agencies; it is also about ensuring that our security agencies are doing everything they can do and must do to ensure that Canadians are successfully protected. I think that is an aspect of the concerns around oversight that the current government might not be paying full attention to. Oversight actually helps our agencies do a better job of protecting Canadians. That is why we believe in it.