In Debate on S-7 Terrorism Legislation

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON: Mr. Speaker, my point about a refusal to listen was illustrated quite effectively just now.

At any rate, as I was saying, a Liberal opposition day was abruptly cancelled in order to bring this legislation forward. Last week, Bill S-7 was not deemed a priority, but suddenly it needed to be debated today. The explanation given by the members opposite was that this bill needed to be passed in light of recent bombings at the Boston Marathon. I would like to point out that the House unanimously condemned those attacks and members rose in silence and respect for those who suffered.

It is unfortunate that members opposite are using the Boston terror attacks to reintroduce controversial measures. These measures go far too far. They endanger Canadians just as much as any other terrorist. New Democrats believe we need to work in strength and use our intelligence and law enforcement networks to deal with the threat of terrorism. However, the Conservatives are choosing to ignore that, to cut border intelligence units in half and end funding for police programs. It is very clear that this is an act of political expediency and not one of genuine concern.

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB: Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more with the member in regard to why we have Bill S-7 before us today, and I hope to address that in my own comments.

My question is along the same lines as the questions I have asked of her colleagues, and that is in regard to the need to have an investigation.

Could the member expand on the point that with terrorism today law enforcement officers are saying they need this additional tool to help them combat terrorism? Does the member not realize that if it did not pass we would have law enforcement agencies, and other experts, saying we have a gap that needs to be filled?

The power to hold individuals for investigation seems to be most important tool. Would she provide further comment on that aspect?

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON: Mr. Speaker, we do have in place a number of provisions that are already in law for dealing with unusual threats.

However, the recent Conservatives cuts in budget 2012-13 and 2013-14 to agencies and police forces that could maintain the security and safety of Canadians speaks more to the point. The Conservatives have cut those agencies by 29.8%. That means there is a huge gap in the ability of communities to deal with emergencies, of all kinds. While terrorism is certainly top of mind, there are a lot of things happening in our communities,and there is security to which we need to pay attention.

There are natural disasters in the Huntsville area right now. People are dealing with very serious floods. Yet, the emergency measures that are needed to help those communities have been cut.

While we are concerned about terrorism, we have to look at security in a much broader way and not just focus on what is expedient and politically of interest.

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON: Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my hon. colleague.

Everyone has heard about the Globe and Mail editorial that said it is very unfortunate that the debate taking place is an attempt on the part of the government to politicize the Boston Marathon bombings, that we need to think this legislation through and we need to look at it it in terms of other historical moments. In England, during the horrific bombings in the 1970s, preventive detention, which the Liberal Party has been promoting all day, was used. We then saw Annie Maguire and her six family members jailed for 15 years on the charge of being Irish in the wrong place. Later on, we realized that was a complete abuse of process.

We saw under the Liberal government, after 2001, that they thought the notion of the right to trial, of the basic freedoms we cherish in the rule of law, was outmoded, and we saw Maher Arar sent off for torture. Given the fact that there are no provisions for children under the bill, they would be treated as adults.

What does the member think of the Liberal Party's continual pushing for the supposed need to have preventive detention without trial, without charges, where people can be put in jail?

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON: Mr. Speaker, in a democracy, one of our chief aims is to protect. What could be more important than protecting children from whatever is out there, and apparently in this case, protecting them from their own government?

It seems to me that we go far too far. We need to remember that three people died on the streets of Boston a week ago. We have to respect that. We have to honour that. To see the government using it for its own nefarious purposes makes all of us feel dreadful. It is sickening in terms of what kind of response we should have.