Public consultation on national security held in LaSalle—Émard—Verdun
with David Lametti, MP for LaSalle—Émard—Verdun and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade
and Michel Picard, MP for Montarville and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Monday, September 12, 2016, 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Dawson Community Centre – 666 Woodland, Montreal, Quebec
Welcome by David Lametti
- This consultation is the third in a series of consultations organized in LaSalle—Émard—Verdun by the Member of Parliament.
- It is our government’s policy to listen to the opinions of Canadians.
- Although Bill C-51 is part of the previous government’s legacy, we will be consulting Canadians on several issues, including this one.
- Mr. Lametti introduced Michel Picard, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
- He is an expert in financial crime.Word from Michel Picard
- Mr. Lametti also introduced the moderator, Mahamadi Savadogo.
- He urged people to tell the government what they want.
- Why are we consulting? Basically, because you are the experts in national security, you have the best understanding of perceptions. Your day-to-day activities and your environment are framed by a virtual environment that relates to your safety (e.g., being able to take the bus every day without worrying about what might happen). Security, your safety from a national security perspective, extends to knowing how a government should manage its security operations, and what information about you should be exchanged internationally.
- What are the aspects that come to mind in terms of national security?
- Implementation of a long-term vision with a better framework Citizens’ comments
- Security outside Canada:
- Challenge: to maximize the safety of Canadians and to protect your rights and freedoms
- National security is not just about our security here on Canadian soil. As soon as people travel outside Canada, as soon as they (Canadian Immigrants) go to other countries as citizens or permanent residents of Canada, they sometimes feel threatened. Some countries do not have legal systems with values like Canada’s, so immigrants going back to visit their country frequently encounter problems. (e.g., an Iranian professor arrested in Iran and accused of making a feminist plan. Because diplomatic relations between Iran and Canada are poor, the Canadian government can do very little to protect this Canadian citizens). Something more should be done to protect Canadians as soon as they leave the country.We must protect the information we have online. Will doing so be enough to ensure that our digital infrastructure is adequately protected against a threat from countries that could wage a cyberwar against Canada? Canada needs a more comprehensive digital‑security plan.
- Education of children:
- I have personally seen cases of young children being radicalized, including cases where parents are not radicals but send the child to a religious institution to learn and practice a religion. In some of these institutions, they do more than just teach a religion. I know of a few cases where parents sent their child to a religious centre and the child (12 years old) became radicalized after attending the centre.
- Michel Picard: What are you looking for in terms of tools and what do you expect from the government?
- Citizen: We need to know who is teaching these children; who is responsible for these children. It’s not a matter of limiting their rights, but…Gun control:
- What do we intend to do to make it more difficult to own and buy assault weapons, firearms and ammunition? Is it a matter of controlling how much ammunition someone can buy? The greatest threat to Canada comes from within, among those who already have weapons.
- In terms of exchanging information and arms control, we must focus on ensuring collaboration between Canadian provinces and making CSIS accountable. Greater accountability to our politicians.
- David Lametti: I was disappointed with the Conservative government’s Bill C-51. The government is trying to strike a balance between security and rights and freedoms entrenched in the Charter, but would like to make elected officials responsible for managing that balance. The priority is to give elected officials some degree of scrutiny over activities that threaten national security.
- Michel Picard on Bill C-22:
- The bill proposes to establish a special committee of parliamentarians who would be required to obtain a security clearance (secret accreditation) and who would be responsible for examining, evaluating and analysing how the agencies work together to ensure national security.
- Canada (along with several other countries, including the US and New Zealand) is one of a few that do not have this type of special committee.
- We will put something in place by December and will probably have to make adjustments to ensure that our vision of things can adapt to events and people’s perceptions.
- Police protection:
- We need greater police protection on our roads. People drink alcohol on the street at night and cause problems.
- Regarding counter‑terrorisms measure in the Criminal Code:
- Do we want to add new provisions or do they already exist in the Criminal Code?
- Michel Picard: These are not tools intended for terrorism, but we use as part of the fight against terrorism. These assorted tools are sometimes used, but are not necessarily appropriate. We absolutely want to fight terrorism, so when an incident occurs, we want to use them. We want tools that will allow us to control these people, but that means they will control everyone. We need a legislative framework that applies to everyone, not just potential terrorists. How far should we or can we go to protect the individual rights and freedoms of Canadians?
- How is it decided who will be chosen or targeted for investigation?
- Michel Picard: That’s an interesting point. Up to what point are you willing to allow yourself to be investigated simply because someone suspects that you could be of interest? What are the limits of that reasoning? You’re the expert. Are you prepared to forego some of your right to privacy to allow the authorities to conduct preventive investigations?
- Will it be possible to charge people who were arrested before they committed a terrorist act? Could the legislation go in that direction?
- David Lametti: There are measures at every step that must be followed. Are you ready to accept greater invasion of your individual privacy and in terms of how we identify ourselves? Are we ready to lower our privacy‑protection standards for the sake of greater national and collective security?
- Balance between suspension of rights and national security:
- During my studies in the US, the question was: to what extent am I willing to sacrifice my own rights in the interest of national security? It comes back to the question of knowing my expectations are. When I’m in my car or in my home, what are my expectations in terms of my security and my rights? For example, security measures for staff and the public were enhanced at the courthouse. If you are a member of the public, you go to the left and are searched. If you are a lawyer or notary, you go to the right but you have to show a piece of identification. But that magic ID is not yet available for notaries, so I had to go the left. I was a bit annoyed and had to remind myself that these measures were in place to ensure my safety and the public’s safety.
- Michel Picard: Would you see a threat if these expectations were called into question? Is this something that should be debated since the danger is always there?
- If you ask for special privileges that go against public protection, there should be a third party as ombudsman, who is associated with the investigation but subject to silence. People may worry about police abuses; however, the fact that someone has access to the file could counterbalance these abuses, etc.
- “Body cams” provide an opportunity to “monitor” police interventions from an outsider point of view.
- Since the advent of the Internet and computers, how does one now define the concept of privacy? Is privacy limited in cyberspace? Recruitment, propaganda, and many other things happen online. What has happened to the concept of privacy? Where does this space begin and end? What are our tools (cell phones, computers, etc.)? To what extent does privacy exist? We should also not be totally fearful. Intelligence services do not have limitless resources. They don’t listen to and spy on everyone. So much information is shared on digital platforms and we ourselves have become so vulnerable; the fact that we use computers means that our privacy is now associated with an open space.
- David Lametti: To what extent / in which situations / under what circumstances / where would you accept to be searched? Where do you draw the line in terms of what you would be willing to accept?
- There is a price to pay for security. Our customs and culture must be respected by people in Canada; when in another country, we must adapt to that country. Extremists do not adapt; they try to impose their way of life, their vision, their ideas.
- It is even more important at this time to discuss radicalization and terrorism because the threat here in Canada is not that present. In Canada, acts of terrorism are not than common, so let’s first have a serious discussion. At this time, I don’t think it is necessary to lower our freedom standards to ensure greater security.
- It is difficult to know to what extent it will actually increase our security and impinge our rights and freedoms. If a major attack had occurred at a primary school yesterday, the discussion would be very different. I expect the government to have a serious discussion on the concrete actions that could be taken to prevent a terrorist attack. As a citizen, I expect serious consideration to be given to this matter.
- In France, there is a feeling of powerlessness; people are discouraged. What lessons have you learned from the events that took place in France and how can we prevent something similar from happening here? What is the government doing to prevent potential attacks?
- Closing remarks by Michel Picard
- This kind of consultation process on national security has never been done before.
- The consultation process will continue. Until December 1, you can submit your comments online. Spread the work. It’s your security and freedoms we are talking about.