Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Emergencies Act”, 33rd Parl, 2nd Sess (17 November 1987)
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 33rd Parl, 2nd Sess, 1987 at 10862-10875, 10889-10901.
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MEASURES TO ENACT
The House resumed from Monday, November 16, consideration of the motion of Mr. Beatty that Bill C-77, an Act to authorize the taking of special temporary measures to ensure safety and security during national emergencies and to amend other Acts in consequence thereof, be read the second time and referred to a legislative committee.
Mr. David Orlikow (Winnipeg North): Mr. Speaker, the War Measures Act, which was passed by the Canadian Parliament in 1914, has become Canada’s all-purpose emergency legislation. Using this Act, it was possible to intern thousands of Canadians during World War I and to outlaw organizations such as the Communist Party and Jehovah’s Witnesses. The War Measures Act made it possible for the internment of thousands of Japanese during World War II and the displacement of some 20,000 Japanese from their homes and properties which were subsequently sold. It was possible, using the provisions of this Act, to forcibly detain hundreds of Canadians during the FLQ kidnappings of October 1970. It was also possible at that time to use the legislation to authorize police raids on students and peace activists in Manitoba and Ontario.
Once the Act had been invoked and the powers given, Governments were very slow to remove them. The Act invoked in 1914 was in force until January 1920. The War Measures Act was invoked during World War II and was in force until 1951. Following the invocation of the Act in 1970, it was kept in force until April of 1971. It has obviously been very easy for a Government of Canada to invoke a crisis atmosphere. In 1970, it was done very quickly and easily and, in the minds of many people, often for the wrong reasons. It was not because the Government feared an insurrection or an apprehended insurrection, but that it wanted to choke off legitimate democratic dissent in Quebec. It tried to permanently stop the growth of the independence movement in that province and, as some people said, to put Quebec in its place.
We know, Mr. Speaker, that it did not stop the growth of the independence movement. In fact, I would maintain, and many people would agree with me, that it was the incarceration of more than 200 people, none of whom were terrorists or revolutionists, but obviously nationalists, which led, to a large extent, to the rapid growth of the Parti Québécois and to its winning of an election using democratic means. Those were political aims and were not security matters at all.
Of course, as I indicated in my earlier remarks, it is very difficult to deal fairly, objectively and cooly with an issue when there is what the public perceives to be a very dangerous situation. It is very difficult for a government or parliament to deal with that. I know because when I, and most of my colleagues who were Members of Parliament at the time, voted against the War Measures Act, our constituents thought we were doing wrong. Nearly all the provincial Governments supported the then Government. We were alone. But later, the then Leader of the Official Opposition, the Progressive Conservative Party, the Right Hon. Robert Stanfield, praised our Party. He did not do that when we voted against the measure, he did it much later.
It is obvious to me and to others that the position we took was to a large extent vindicated and proven correct by subsequent events. I say that because, despite the claims made by the then Minister in the Liberal Government, Mr. Marchand, that there were thousands of members in the FLQ organization, the fact is that there were only a handful of people and there was no danger or threat of a revolution. It was the present Leader of the Official Opposition (Mr. Turner), the then Minister of Justice, who promised that the reasons the Government imposed the War Measures Act would be explained at a suitable time. That suitable time never came. We still have never had from him or from the former Solicitor General any explanation as to why the War Measures Act was imposed at the time.
As I have already indicated, even the political aim of smashing the separatist movement failed. In fact, the action was counter-productive because it was responsible to a large extent for the election of a PQ Government in 1976. It is perhaps easy to be right with hindsight but, in this case, members of the New Democratic Party were right at the time. Some of us paid for it politically.
Having had that experience, I would want the successor legislation which we are discussing at the present time to be far better than what we had. In this way the kind of misuse of the Act and the way in which people have been mistreated, for example, the Japanese, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the people in Quebec who were mistreated and lost their democratic rights, would not happen again. We are not satisfied that the Bill we are discussing today will accomplish those aims or see that the excesses which were permitted on using the War Measures Act will not be used again.
Let me point out some of the difficulties we see with the present Bill. The public welfare emergency which is dealt with in Clauses 3 and 6 of the Bill directly affect the provision of goods and services in Canada during an emergency. As such, it is seen as legislation which can be used to end legitimate labour stoppages. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association stated in its submission to the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Beatty) on October 5 of this year the following:
Despite the economic disruptions which may be inflicted by strikes in the post office, the railways, or even the auto industry, we would be loath to see them become ready targets for emergency powers.
While there may be some circumstances in which some strikes have to be terminated in the public interest, we believe it is preferable that such action be taken in the context of well-balanced labour legislation or by specific statutes narrowly addressed to specific circumstances.
I point out to Hon. Members that that is precisely what we have done with regard to the Post Office and the railways and what we might very well do in respect of the current airline dispute at Air Canada. We do not need that type of provision in this Bill.
Public order emergency is defined in Clause 14 of the Bill as “threats to the security of Canada” based on the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act. How can we be sure that the distinction between subversion and dissent will be respected? CSIS is having great difficulty in doing so.
As I pointed out earlier, we have as an example of that the surveillance performed by the RCMP and CSIS of poor Nick Turnette in Winnipeg. Many things can be said of him, but he has certainly never said or done anything no one who knows anything about Winnipeg or Nick Turnette would suggest it for a moment—that could be classified as subversive. It would be ludicrous and laughable if it were not so sad to see how the activities of CSIS are being misused.
International emergency is defined as a threat to any country in which the political, economic or security interests of Canada or any of its allies are involved. That is contained in Clause 25 of the Bill. It is far too broad a power. Who would want to threaten someone with sanctions for simply carrying out normal business practices that could be construed as against the interests of Canada or its allies? The Canadian Civil Liberties Association points out that there are few places in the world in which Canada or its allies do not have political, economic or security interests.
War emergencies in this Bill are virtually unchanged from the provisions of the War Measures Act. Is this really good enough for a country which has seen such rapid development in human rights legislation and organization over the past 20 years?
In conclusion, I want to say that the Minister was quite critical of the excesses of the War Measures Act in his remarks, and quite properly so. A body which acted against the War Measures Act in 1970 is the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. If the Minister is sincere about wanting to remove the excesses of the War Measures Act he should listen carefully to the association. It certainly does not support the Bill as he has drafted it.
In its submission to the Minister the association has asked time and time again for more precise drafting and specific definitions of the powers being granted to the Government under the provisions of this Bill. In the end, it makes 23 recommendations to improve the Bill. The recommendations are as basic as wanting a simple definition of the word
“emergency” so that the law can only be invoked when there is imminent and serious peril to the lives and health of many people. It also asks for an independent adjudicator appointed by the Canadian Labour Relations Board to award compensation for those ordered to perform duties in connection with the use of emergency powers. It also asks that the Government accept the duty to provide compensation for those injured by the exercise of emergency powers. Surely, if the experience with the Japanese Canadians is to mean anything, then there must be a clear-cut responsibility to negotiate compensation— not just the power to do so but the duty to do so. After all, the Japanese have been waiting 45 years, and they still have not received compensation for the injustices perpetrated upon them.
Finally, the association makes a request to limit the Government’s power to prohibit and regulate assemblies during public order emergencies. As the association states, the right of assembly is fundamental to a democratic society, and perhaps it is the key right to achieve the goals of democracy. In the words of the association:
In so many ways, the right of peaceable assembly serves as a prerequisite to the existence of other freedoms. It represents one of the most potent ways that citizens can challenge excesses of government power. Indeed, one of our concerns is that this power might be used to prevent legitimate critics from effectively calling into question the very declaration of a public order emergency.
In the end, democracy must hold sway, if our form of government is to mean anything at all. If a government limits or even threatens to limit the power of assembly we have the very real possibility that force will be substituted for democratic principles. I remind Hon. Members that that is precisely what the Government of South Africa does in order to maintain the power of the white minority over the huge black majority in that country. We do not wish that situation to even be possibly used in Canada.
We ask, do we not have confidence in our democratic ways? In this legislation can we not say that the democratic rights of Canadians come first and limitations on them must always be tightly drafted to cover specific situations in order that the climate of repression and fear, which has too often been used by Governments in the past, will be replaced by confidence in our people and in their inherent democratic sense?
For the reasons that I have outlined, we will not vote for this Bill, certainly not in the form in which it is drafted at the present time.
Mr. Blackburn (Brant): I listened with interest to the Hon. Member’s speech on Bill C-77. Would the Hon. Member care to comment or expand upon an issue that I raised yesterday in my speech when I questioned whether this type of legislation should come in under the auspices of the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Beatty) rather than the Minister of Justice (Mr. Hnatyshyn).
My feeling then was that this legislation would be used mainly in peacetime; it would deal with disorder and disruption within the country when we were not at war. War is certainly the most unusual and most unlikely type of situation in which this legislation would be used. In stating that, I do not in any way cast negative aspersions on the integrity, honesty, or ability of the Minister of National Defence. I meant it more in an academic manner.
I wish to ask the Hon. Member for Winnipeg North (Mr. Orlikow) if he agrees that legislation like this should be in the civilian domain as opposed to the military.
Mr. Orlikow: I certainly agree with the Hon. Member for Brant (Mr. Blackburn). I can only speculate and guess as to why it was the Minister of National Defence who brought in this Bill. I suppose the reason is that once the Bill is imposed it is the Armed Forces that carry out its provisions.
I certainly agree with the Hon. Member for Brant, both in principle and in fact, that this is a matter which deals with the whole question of justice, controls, and a reduction of the democratic rights of the people that are involved in the use of this Act. Therefore, I believe that this Bill should have been brought in and a decision to implement it should be made by the Cabinet on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice (Mr. Hnatyshyn) rather than the Minister of National Defence.
My view has nothing to do with how I feel about the present Minister of National Defence, the Minister of Justice, the Solicitor General (Mr. Kelleher), or any other Minister. It is pretty obvious to me that this Bill should have been dealt with as a matter of our whole system of justice and how it affects the democratic rights and freedoms of the people of Canada.
Mr. Hopkins: I wish to ask the Hon. Member for Winnipeg North (Mr. Orlikow) if he believes that the clauses dealing with international conflict and war are strong enough or too strong, and if he agrees that strong measures are needed for direction under those particular circumstances?
The second question I wish to pose deals with the compensation part of the Bill where, under Part V, a Federal Court judge becomes the assessor to assess cases when complaints come requiring compensation for citizens of Canada. First, they decide whether the citizen has a case in point, and whether he or she deserves compensation. They have the authority to make that decision under this Bill. After the case is heard, and if the citizen is not satisfied with the decision, the only manner in which the case can be appealed is back to the Federal Court where the decision came from in the first place. The Federal Court assessor or judge will then make a recommendation to the Government.
The one thing that the assessor cannot do is increase the amount of money as far as the Government is concerned, because it has already put a ceiling on what it will pay by way of compensation. Clause 50(3) states in part:
(3) The decision of the Assessor on any appeal under this Part is final and conclusive and is not subject to appeal to or review by any court, except in accordance with Section 28 of the Federal Court Act.
That latter part simply means that there is no appeal as long as the court follows the due process of law and the rules of natural justice. If the court does not base its decision on a mistake of fact or law, or interpretation thereof, in essence what it means is there shall be no appeal.
Does the Hon. Member feel that in this particular clause the Government is in fact setting up its own legal system to manage this Bill? Indeed, is it being its own decision maker in the end? It is the one that will decide whether or not a Canadian citizen deserves compensation.
It is interesting to note that under the War Measures Act a Canadian citizen had the right to take a case to a county or district court and from there they could automatically go to the Supreme Court of Canada. We know that that is a long route, but a citizen did have that option. Is it fair that a Canadian citizen should stop at the Federal Court of Canada and not have access to the due process of law throughout the legal system of Canada from the bottom up to the Supreme Court of Canada?
Mr. Orlikow: I am not a lawyer, and obviously I am not an expert. I am hesitant to give answers to the somewhat technical questions asked by my hon. friend. However, let me state that I am very doubtful that I would wish to support any legislation which states that there can be no appeal from a decision made by any judge. I certainly have reservations about that question.
In respect to the question on involvement in international matters, I wish to put on the record the view of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in one of its recommendations for changes in this Bill. It states:
A re-definition of international and war emergencies so as to avoid situations made possible by the current Bill in which emergency powers could be invoked in Canada in response to innumerable and various circumstances elsewhere in the world that only remotely, if at all, affect Canadian interests.
In their brief they use an illustration that Canada has some business and commercial involvement with companies in Indonesia. They say that if there were some kind of emergency or revolution in Indonesia our involvement there, which would be very tenuous, might be used under the provisions of this law to invoke the Emergencies Act in Canada.
I do not feel I could give a more specific answer than that. It points out my feelings and the feelings of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Bar Association, that before the Bill is passed a great deal of very careful consideration must be given to it clause by clause.
Mr. Charles-Eugène Marin (Gaspé): Madam Speaker, the second reading of the Emergencies Bill has helped to put some distance between us and the memories of the War Measures Act that still come back to haunt us.
When the Emergencies Bill and the Emergency Preparedness Bill were tabled on June 26 this year, the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Beatty) laid bare the fundamental defects of the present legislation.
“Experience has shown”, he said, “that the War Measures Act does not provide for the desired moderate response to national emergencies in peace time. History’s painful lesson has been that the Act gives the Government sweeping powers without any guarantees for the fundamental rights of Canadians”.
The time has come, not to rewrite history but to prevent a tragic repetition. By adopting this new legislation, we will also bring Canada’s laws in line with this country’s international reputation. The Summit meeting of heads of state and heads of government from Francophone countries held recently in Quebec City demonstrated the prestige Canada enjoys among both rich and poor nations. Canada owes its reputation to the hospitality, the readiness to share and the respect for the differences of others that is customary among Canadians.
In this context, the War Measures Act is shockingly out of place. It is surprising, to say the least, that Canada is practically the only democratic country—unlike its provinces and territories—that does not have appropriate legislation to deal with emergencies.
The Emergencies Act will correct this anomaly so that the Government will be able to respond to national emergencies through the use of means that, while extraordinary, will be limited to what is strictly required. The Government will be in a position to deal with four main types of national emergencies: public welfare emergencies, public order emergencies, international emergencies and war emergencies.
The Emergencies Act will provide for parliamentary review of the use of emergency powers and their revocation. It will oblige the Government to return to Parliament for any renewal or amendment of a declaration of emergency and to answer to Parliament for the use of these powers. The legislation will limit where and when emergency powers are used and will make it possible to respond appropriately to each type of emergency. Finally, it will enable the Government to act quickly, thus limiting physical injury or material damage.
The Emergency Preparedness Act will also reflect the federal Government’s desire to be able to respond more appropriately to the needs of Canadians in a state of emergency. It is in this perspective that the legislation will define the role, responsibilities and mandate of Emergency Preparedness Canada.
Furthermore, with the tabling of this Bill, the 1981 Emergency Planning Order has been repealed. The Order was criticized because of its wording, which was very open to misinterpretation, and its legal basis. In fact, it was based on a royal prerogative, not a statute, and has now been
replaced by a Cabinet directive until orders arising from the new legislation can be drafted.
There are times when the subject matter of certain Bills is so important that unanimity should prevail over partisan concerns.
The legislation we are considering on second reading today fits this category.
Madam Speaker, the abolition of the War Measures Act and replacing it with new legislation means the end of a nightmare for those of us who are from Quebec and comes in response to a requests made by Members of all Parties represented here, requests that still echo between the walls of this House.
Madam Speaker, as a Quebecer and a Canadian, I am proud that I and, with me, all Members of this House are being asked to turn a stormy page in our history and write another, more peaceful chapter.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne): Questions or comments. Resuming debate. The Hon. Member for Cowichan—Malahat—The Islands (Mr. Manly).
Mr. Jim Manly (Cowichan—Malahat—The Islands): Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to make a few remarks on Bill C-77 respecting the Emergencies Act. We should begin by recognizing that all Members of the House and most members of Canadian society would agree on certain basic principles. I think it is helpful if we begin from a recognition of those principles.
If we take the most minimal definition of government, we would agree that it exists to provide for the good order and security of our society. We would agree that a government must have adequate power to protect society from threats to good order and security. We would also agree that in granting such adequate power to government Parliament must build in adequate protection for the rights and liberties of groups and individuals.
There is a recognition that emergency powers themselves can create a threat to the good order of society if those emergency powers are abused. Indeed, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association suggests that the abuse of the War Measures Act in 1970 was a contributing factor to the subsequent abuse of human rights by the RCMP. It quoted the testimony which RCMP Sergeant Robert Potvin gave to the McDonald Commission. When referring to the War Measures Act, he said:
And so, in our minds, while the Act had been revoked, the situation had not changed, and that to some extent many of the same measures that had been used at that time seemed to us to be still necessary. And so there was a kind of attitude, if you will, that prevailed among those of us that were doing the work.
It is absolutely essential that adequate power for government to protect against threats to society must be balanced by adequate protection for groups and individuals so that these powers are not abused.
We all know the saying of Lord Acton: “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely”. It is a fact that in a time of crisis a panic atmosphere often develops which allows the Government and the authorities to take action which would not be allowed in a time of more sober reflection.
This measure gives the Government much wider latitude to deal with situations than Canadian people would wish, in a time of reflection. Individual rights would be ignored or trampled upon. Right now we are in a time of comparative calm when we should be able to look at Bill C-77, the Emergencies Act, in a spirit of reason, looking at both sides of the question.
In general, while maintaining the balance between the requirements of the state and the need to protect the rights of individuals, Members of the Opposition might be expected to champion the rights and liberties of individuals and to oppose strongly the increase of government bills at the expense of those rights. Conversely, government Members might be expected to insist on broad enough government powers to deal with any conceivable emergency. These are the traditional roles that the Government and the Opposition have tended to play in Parliament when dealing with this kind of emergency legislation. Perhaps this might be a very good time to have this kind of a debate. We are not that far away from an election when it is very likely that we will be changing which side of the House we sit on. It is a good time for us to be thinking about the arguments of the other side.
New Democrats, as we contemplate the possibility of being in Government, will want to ensure that government will have adequate authority to deal with emergencies even as we continue to be concerned about the need to protect individual rights and liberties. I am sure that government Members will want to be thinking of the time not too far distant when they will be sitting in opposition. They will not want the Government to have undue powers. I urge government Members to have that medium term point of view—not a long term point of view but a medium viewpoint, instead of an exceedingly short term one.
We can look at the way in which the old War Measures Act has been abused. I think all Members here recognize that fact, and feel it is long overdue for the scrap heap of history. When we look at the old War Measures Act we see a couple of very shameful incidents in Canadian history, perhaps the foremost of which is the deportation from British Columbia and the internment of the Japanese during World War II. This is something that cannot be considered by intelligent Canadians without a sense of shame.
I said that we should be conducting this debate this morning in an atmosphere of a spirit of reason. At the same time we have to bring a certain degree of commitment and emotion to
this debate. When we look at the way we treated the rights of Japanese citizens in Canada during the Second World War we cannot feel anything but shame. These people were forcibly evicted from their homes, their homes were seized, their businesses and properties were expropriated, they faced restrictions on travel and their families were separated. Ken Adachi in his book The Enemy That Never Was points out that no Japanese was ever convicted of espionage and yet we treated the Japanese as being enemies of Canada solely on the basis of race, a most shameful example of the way in which we trampled upon the rights and liberties of Canadians. The native born nisei and the naturalized issei, that is the Japanese who had been born in Japan and had come over here and taken up Canadian citizenship, were treated worse than the issei aliens, that is the Japanese who had come over here and had never taken out Canadian citizenship, because the issei who had never been naturalized were under the protection of the International Red Cross and the Spanish embassy. We treated our own citizens more shamefully than the aliens who were still citizens of Japan, a country with whom we were at war at the time. That was a shameful incident in Canadian history.
We could look at the false emergency of 1970 when the War Measures Act was proclaimed, and yet the reasons for the proclamation of that War Measures Act have never been justified. We have heard many times what the then Minister of Justice who is today the Right Hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Turner) said, that it was his hope that someday the full details of the intelligence upon which the Government acted can be made public because until that day comes the people of Canada will not be able to appreciate fully the course of action which has been taken by the Government.
Certainly the Members of our Party, the majority of whom voted against the imposition of the War Measures Act at that time, would very much like to have the details of that shameful situation made public. From everything that can be determined right now there was absolutely no justification for that Draconian law being applied at that time. Four hundred and ninety-seven people were interned, in most cases for no other crime than the crime of believing in Quebec nationalism, having exercised their democratic right to speak and organize in favour of Quebec nationalism. Fewer than 20 of that 497 were convicted, mostly on minor charges to which they pled guilty. Indeed, René Lévesque pointed out that we cannot help thinking and saying that this degradation of Quebec was intended quite deliberately. He says that “the half Government”, referring to the Bourassa Government, “we had until now has been swept away by the first hard blow”. He added that:
the Québécois are witnessing an operation aimed solely at ‘disorganizing and dislocating, or at least trying to compromise and demoralize as much as possible, most of the groups and organizations that give a democratic expression to the Québécois’ most legitimate aspirations and collective needs”.
That is the way in which René Lévesque saw the imposition of the War Measures Act at that time when he was working for what he considered to be the best future of Quebec, a person who the present Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney) spoke of as being perhaps the greatest democrat that Canada has ever seen. Perhaps that is the typical hyperbole of the Prime Minister but certainly René Lévesque had a great commitment to democracy. Yet he saw the imposition of the War Measures Act as a deliberate attempt to trample the rights of the Québécois into the ground.
It is this completely unjustified use of power under the War Measures Act that we objected to at the time. Finally the then Leader of the Opposition, Robert Stanfield, admitted that he had been wrong in supporting the War Measures Act when it was imposed in 1970. It is well past the time when it should be disposed of. It should no longer be in the statute books of Canada. If for no other reason, I welcome the introduction of Bill C-77 for the statement in one of its clauses that the War Measures Act is hereby repealed.
We have, however, a lot of problems with Bill C-77 itself. As the Canadian Civil Liberties Association points out, it in turn gives very sweeping powers to the Government in times of emergency. It defines four different kinds of emergency. It talks about public welfare emergencies, times of civil disorder, international emergencies and war emergencies.
Clause 38 gives the Government complete carte blanche in terms of war emergencies. Let me read Clause 38:
While a declaration of a war emergency is in effect, the Governor in Council may make such orders or regulations as, in the opinion of the Governor in Council, are reasonably necessary or advisable for dealing with the emergency.
The preamble says this Act has to be subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights. We can ask whether Clause 38 does not give the Government such complete power that the Charter would have very little effect. Indeed, it is questionable whether this does not give the Government the kind of power which would have allowed it to treat the Japanese in the shameful way in which they were treated in World War II had this been the law of the land at that time.
The Civil Liberties Association points out that the powers that are granted to the Government under this legislation tend to be too broad and too sweeping for the crises with which they are supposed to deal. In turn, the emergencies are too vaguely defined. The Civil Liberties Association suggests that there should be a much tighter requirement for the Government to justify its need for this kind of legislation, to point out to the Canadian people, Parliament, and the courts why the existing legislation is not adequate to deal with individual crises as they arise. Instead, it is only necessary that the Government declare that such an emergency exists in the opinion of the Governor in Council.
One of the provisions of this Act which may be forwardlooking is the provision for compensation, Clause 46. Unfortunately, when we look at Clause 46 we see:
(3) Any sum recovered by the Crown pursuant to an action under subsection (2) shall be applied
(a) first, to payment of the costs actually incurred in the action and in levying execution, and
(b) second, to reimbursement of the Crown for the compensation paid to the person whose rights were subrogated, and the balance, if any, shall be paid to that person.
We are talking about a great new right of compensation for individuals who suffer from the imposition of this Act, yet when it comes to them receiving any financial compensation they are last in line. The Government looks after the recovery of funds for itself first.
In Part VII, Consequential and Related Provisions, there are some amendments to the Energy Supplies Emergency Act, 1979. The Energy Supplies Emergency Act gives the Government powers to deal with our energy supplies in the event of an emergency. I hope I will learn in committee how that Energy Supplies Emergency Act will be affected by the Mulroney- Reagan trade deal which says that in the event of any kind of energy shortage the United States will have access to Canadian energy supplies in the same proportion as they have in the past. How will that impact upon the Canadian Government’s power to control energy supplies in the event of a national emergency? I suggest that that power is being very seriously compromised.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has made a number of very positive suggestions that should be considered very seriously by the committee. Perhaps the most basic is that the Government should create and circulate a working paper for Members of Parliament and the public. The paper should link the kind of anticipated emergencies that provoked this Bill with the kinds of powers with which the Government seeks to address those emergencies. In other words, the Government should be much more specific.
All sides of the House have agreed that we want to move away from the Draconian legislation that we had under the old War Measures Act. We are looking for a new regime, a new provision that will give the Government sufficient power to act in the event of emergencies. We are all agreed on that, but we must find some way to ensure that the rights and liberties of groups and individual Canadians are protected. We are very concerned that Bill C-77 does not do that.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association calls upon the Government to produce a working paper so that we can see specifically what the Government is trying to do and how it is trying to do it. Then we can study Bill C-77 in committee in an effort to produce legislation which will do that which Members on all sides of the House want to have done.
Unfortunately, the Bill in its present form does not give the protection for the individual rights and liberties which we feel are essential for Canada to remain a strong democracy. On that basis we are not able to support this Bill. If the Government insists on pushing it through, we look forward to having changes made in committee which will make it more acceptable to the Canadian people.
Mr. Ferland: Madam Speaker, I have a question for my colleague. He said the law was very strict. Of course, he referred to the problems experienced by the Japanese during World War II, and I should think that all Hon. Members deplore such incidents. However clause 37 provides that the act remains effective for only one year; in other words, from the moment the war measures are implemented the legislation has to be brought back before Parliament after 365 days, unless it has been repealed before. I should like to know how my colleague feels about clause 37 of the legislation in particular, and about clause 36 as well.
Mr. Manly: Madam Speaker, obviously the limitation of one year is helpful, but Clause 41 provides that the Act can be continued for a further period of 360 days and that it can be repeatedly continued. Therefore, the limitation of 360 days means that there will be a review at the end of one year and that it may then be continued. I do not believe that that will in any way safeguard the rights of people who are being impacted upon. As we all know, in 1970 the War Measures Act did not need to be in effect for a whole year in order to affect very seriously the rights of the people of Quebec.
Mr. Ferland: Madam Speaker, my colleague is referring to clause 41, so I should like to quote it for the record:
At anytime before a declaration of a war emergency would otherwise expire, the Governor in Council, after such consultation as is required—may, by proclamation—
With respect to consultation, the Lieutenant Governor of each province must be consulted. So this has to be a guarantee provided under the provisions of clause 41, and I would urge my colleague to read them over again.
Mr. Manly: Madam Speaker, we certainly welcome all the additional guarantees in terms of consultations, having to come before Parliament, and so on. However, the fact remains that Clause 38 gives the Government carte blanche to make such orders and regulations which, in the opinion of the Governor in Council, are reasonably necessary or advisable for dealing with the emergency. It has those powers for a period of 360 days, which is a very long period in which to take a great many actions. There can then be reviews.
If we look at the kind of climate which existed in Canada towards Japan during the Second World War, and the kind of cumulative racism which was directed towards Canadians of Japanese ancestry, even with the provision requiring a yearly review it would have meant that it probably would have passed the House of Commons.
Indeed, even in 1946, after the war was over, a very respected Conservative Member for whom I have a lot of
respect, Howard Green, was still making some very negative comments about the Japanese, saying they should not be allowed to return to British Columbia, and so on. Therefore, the kind of hysteria and panic which builds up in a situation of crisis seems to validate Governments taking this kind of sweeping action against the rights of individuals. What we are saying in this time of comparative calm, is that we should build into this Act the kind of protection that will not be swept away in a time of panic.
Mr. Hopkins: Madam Speaker, I want to ask the Hon. Member a question about civil liberties, which becomes paramount in a Bill such as this. Perhaps I should ask him if he thinks it is really possible for any government to bring in a Bill of this nature that does not in some way affect civil liberties? I think that is the greatest challenge any political party could possibly have under the circumstances.
The Hon. Member stated that Bill C-77 should be worded in such a way that it did not affect civil liberties. May I ask the Hon. Member what amendments he would look to in order to prevent this from happening?
Secondly, with regard to the review committee process, what if we had 30 Members of the Senate signing a request that the declaration be tabled, or the continuation of a declaration be tabled in the House and be debated; or there could be a request from 15 Members of Parliament for a similar debate, a signed statement and the review committee would go through this. Does the Hon. Member think that, given a massive majority Government, for example, it is possible for that committee to really make an impact? It sounds good—we are going back to the parliamentary process, but does the Hon. Member see a weakness? Could the review committee really make an impact at a time when that committee is obviously going to have a massive majority of Members from the Government benches? Does that not really indicate that regardless of this Bill or any other Bill, the final essence of the administration of the Bill, its fairness, is going to rest with the attitude of the government of the day?
Mr. Manly: Madam Speaker, I thank the Hon. Member for the series of very important questions. First, with regard to whether it is possible for the Government to bring in any kind of legislation dealing with national emergencies which does not affect civil liberties, I will say, no, I think civil liberties will always be affected. However, I would draw attention to a statement made by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. It said the idea is to make the invocation of emergency powers as politically vulnerable an exercise as we can make it. In other words, the Government should have to be very wary about exercising the powers it would have under any such legislation. That means that we have to build in safeguards.
The kind of amendments I would be looking for would follow the sort of suggestions made in the summary of recommendations of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. I hope the committee will look at those very seriously and consider them point by point, and in turn that the Government will consider these amendments so that we can provide the maximum protection.
I do not think it is possible to have law that does not in some way impact upon civil liberties, and if I said it was, I really did not intend to do so.
With regard to the review process, I think the Hon. Member has it twisted. 1 think 15 Members of the Senate and 30 Members of the House of Commons are able to institute the review process rather than the other way around. Certainly, when a government has a large majority, I think it is very difficult sometimes to expect that there will be sufficient people in the Government to stand up and speak out against abuses. However, I still think it is important to have that kind of review process. Even if no corrective action is taken, the very fact that there is a public review process is a helpful stage. Not all governments have large majorities. I would expect that after the next election we will not have a Government with quite such a large majority. In fact, we might even have a minority Government that will be much more sensitive to the rights of individuals.
Mr. Marc Ferland (Portneuf): Madam Speaker, it is amazing to see just how anxious NDP mambers are to take office in Canada. But they would have to improve their position in Quebec where, according to a poll taken last weekend, they had only 8 per cent of popular support.
Having said that, Madam Speaker, I suggest that Part IV of Bill C-77 is somewhat confusing. We often get the impression that members of the opposition do not quite understand what this Bill is all about. Part IV of the Emergencies Act concerns “a war or other armed conflict, real or imminent”. Part IV of the War Measures Act applied only to war, invasion or real or apprehended insurrection.
According to Part IV of Bill C-77, the declaration of an emergency must be justified and may be challenged. It is important to emphasize that point. Under the present legislation, the declaration of a state of emergency is based on “conclusive evidence that war, invasion or insurrection, real or apprehended, existed”. In the proposed legislation, all orders and regulations would be subject to scrutiny by Parliament. No such provision exists at the present time.
Under Part IV of Bill C-77, Parliament might decide to reconsider or revoke a declaration of a war emergency. Such is not the case under the War Measures Act.
Part IV of Bill C-77 will be subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The War Measures Act is not.
Part IV of Bill C-77 provides for expiration at the end of 360 days. Continuation of a declaration requires the approval of Parliament. The current legislation provides for no expiry date. In Bill C-77, there are provisions for compensating persons having suffered damage or injury as a result of the
application of the Emergencies Act. The present legislation does not include such provisions.
Finally, before the new legislation takes effect, the provinces shall be consulted and their views reported to Parliament. This is a new provision.
In my opinion, Madam Speaker, Bill C-77 which has been introduced in this House by the Minister of National Defence reflects and meets the expectations of Canadians.
Some may ask why the Minister of Defence is sponsoring this Bill rather than the Minister of Justice. I believe that it is time that Canadians realize, first, what role our army plays in peace time, and second, that emergency measures in Canada come under the jurisdiction of the Minister of National Defence. It is therefore important for the Minister of National Defence to be able to table such Bills and to defend them in this House.
A number of questions have been raised by many Canadians and by Members of the Opposition. I should point out that this does not surprise me on the part of the Opposition as they are often a bit confused. In fact, why is the Government introducing this Bill? The main purpose of the Government is to abrogate the War Measures Act and to replace it by a modern piece of legislation, better adjusted to the reality of the 1990’s and the year 2000. Have no fear, Members of the Opposition, we shall still be in power in the year 2000.
How does the Emergencies Act differ from the War Measures Act? The Emergencies Act, which applies to all sorts of emergencies, provides for mechanisms and guarantees which are absent from the War Measures Act. In addition, it provides for compensation in the case of losses, damages and corporal or material injury and preserves the legitimate interests of the provinces. Of course, this Parliament is not used to a Government which consults the provinces and takes their aspirations into account. We now have one and I must say that the provinces are very happy about it. And this will certainly continue for a long time.
The other questions people are asking are: Which guarantees are offered by the Emergencies Act? What are the procedures to follow? How will the legislation protect fundamental rights and freedoms in an emergency? First, the Act is subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights. It is also in compliance with the 1967 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of the United Nations in relation with the inviolable nature of certain fundamental rights, even during national emergencies. What would be considered an emergency and what are these rights? These rights include the right to life, the right to be protected from torture, inhuman punishment and slavery, the right to protection from the retroactive application of sanctions and the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. In fact, other guarantees give Parliament the right to examine the use of emergency powers. Thus, the Government will have to give Parliament a concise explanation of the reasons why it has invoked the Emergencies Act, the opportunity to debate the issue and details of the special measures it is considering to deal with the situation.
Other guarantees which do not exist in the War Measures Act restrict the use of special emergency powers by the Government. These major restrictions have to do with a time limit, a geographical restriction to resort to emergency powers, the obligation to secure parliamentary authority to cancel the declaration of a crisis situation, the obligation to consult the provinces before implementing the act, and in the case of an emergency situation in only one province, the obligation to wait for the province to make a formal application before declaring a state of emergency. What a change from what we witnessed in the past!
In fact other Canadians are wondering why the Government now introduces this legislation. Indeed, we are honouring an election promise. Members of the Opposition are always taken aback when they see the Government living up to its election promises. I must say that right now most of our promises have been honoured, and it will not be long before we fulfill all our 1984 promises.
Recent catastrophic incidents in other countries—I have in mind the tragic accidents at Bhopal and Chernobyl, tornadoes in central Ontario, earthquakes in Mexico, and increasing international terrorism—are example of events which have made Canadians fully aware of the ever present and growing threat of a major crisis.
The October 1970 crisis underscored the gap between ordinary legal mechanisms provided under such legislation as the Criminal Code and the National Defence Act on one hand, and the extraordinary powers available under the War Measures Act on the other hand. Those who were in Quebec during the 1970s will remember the situation in which Quebecers were living at the time.
What is actually missing from our federal legislation in order to address an emergency? The laws of this country that deal with emergencies and grant special powers have many flaws. First, the War Measures Act is commonly viewed as being too vague and too drastic for public welfare emergencies and public order emergencies in times of peace. The few other provisions in other federal laws that can be used in emergencies have many loopholes. They are little more than a piecemeal mixture with little safeguards. The passing of emergency bills that might be put together in the hustle and bustle of an emergency could give rise to hasty actions frought with passions or excesses. Moreover, their passing would be delayed if the Government was not sitting and would become impossible if Parliament happened to have been dissolved at the time of an emergency.
The question often arises as to why the legislation is divided into four parts. Well, each definition is designed to limit the scope of each part of the Act to a specific, carefully delineated type of emergency. The powers available in each part are scaled to the type of emergency covered by each. In the majority of cases, one part only would be
invoked, but under exceptional circumstances it would be possible to simultaneously invoke several parts of the Act.
We are asked by Canadians what types of situations the Bill will cover. We say that the Emergencies Act will only apply to national crises. The emergencies that could give rise to a national crisis have been divided into four groups: public welfare emergencies, public order emergencies, international emergencies and war emergencies.
What is a public welfare emergency? A public welfare emergency results from a natural disaster or accident so serious as to be a national emergency. The provisions dealing with emergencies are designed to allow the federal Government to mobilize the resources of the nation as a whole in order to meet a very serious disaster. All provincial and territorial governments have enacted emergency legislation to meet public welfare emergencies within their jurisdictions. Provinces and territories have acquired sufficient ability, resources and experience to meet most public welfare emergencies, by themselves or with the help of the Canadian Government, provinces or neighbouring territories. However, in a national emergency, the vast mobilization and coordination operation which might become necessary could only be organized by the federal Government.
When the direct effects of an emergency are felt mainly in a single province, the Emergencies Act provides that a public welfare emergency can be declared only if the province indicates that the emergency exceeds its own capacity or authority to deal with it. In serious emergencies which affect several provinces, all the provinces involved have to be consulted before the Act is invoked. In addition, the Act provides that the control or direction of a province over any police force over which it normally has control or direction, including the RCMP, will not be affected.
Canadians can therefore be assured that the Act will not be used lightly to deal with minor or localized emergencies.
What is a public order emergency and why does the Act apply to such emergencies? These are other questions asked by Canadians.
The Emergencies Act defines a public order emergency as an emergency that arises from threats to the security of Canada and that is so serious as to be a national emergency. The threats to the security of Canada are defined in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and concern mostly spying, sabotage, subversion, terrorism and attempts to overthrow the established Government. Legitimate dissidence is explicitly excluded.
The purpose of Part II of the Bill is to establish measures of limited application providing fully satisfactory guarantees to face such threats when they constitute a national emergency and when ordinary provisions prove inadequate. If the effects of the emergency are limited to a single province, this province must indicate that it is unable to deal with the emergency by itself before the emergency can be declared under the terms of
Part II of the Act. In all cases, the Government will be obliged to consult the provinces affected by the emergency before invoking Part II of the Bill. The provisions of the Criminal Code will continue to be used to deal with emergencies of a less serious nature caused by instigators of public disorder.
People are wondering what the purpose is of Part III and why it is essential to the Bill. Part III of the Emergencies Bill deals with international emergencies. It gives the Government fully safeguarded and appropriately limited exceptional powers to act quickly in case of a serious international emergency, without having to resort to the draconian and controversial powers it is given under the War Measures Act. Before proclaiming a state of emergency under this part of the Bill, the Governor in Council must consult all the provinces to the extent that, in his opinion, it is appropriate and practicable to do so.
Part III enables the Government to take and implement, in co-operation with our allies, preventive and preparatory measures of a civil, military, economic and diplomatic nature to deal with the emergency and reduce tension. At the same time, it enables the Government, if necessary, to put the country in a state of preliminary preparedness for war, to start the process of mobilizing civilians and to take steps for emergency preparedness. Consequently, it acts as a deterrent against acts of aggression that are contrary to the interests of Canada or those of our allies.
What does Part IV say? Part IV of the Emergencies Bill deals with war emergencies and provides additional, fully safeguarded and appropriately limited powers to deal with such emergencies, powers that would not be provided under Part III. Part IV would apply only to a real or imminent conflict involving Canada or its allies.
So what is the purpose, Madam Speaker, of the War Measures Act and what are its shortcomings? The War Measures Act was passed by Parliament on August 21, 1914. Not many Members in the House today were present or even born at the time this Act was passed.
When World War I broke out, the Act was passed without dissent after only one-half hour of debate. It contains very few guarantees for protection of provincial interests, parliamentary review or civil rights. In any case, it will not be said that Bill C-77 was passed in half an hour. We will take the time to consider this Bill, and we want to make sure all Members of this House fully understand its implications.
The War Measures Act was quite similar to the Defence of the Realm Act which the United Kingdom passed on August 8, 1914. I am not sure, but there must have been similarities. This legislation was adopted quite hastily. Very extensive powers were thereby granted to the Governor in Council who could proclaim the existence of a state of emergency, then enact such orders or regulations which were deemed necessary or advisable for the security, defence, peace, order, and welfare of Canada. Under the Act, a state of emergency might be
decreed by proclamation and, until it is revoked, this proclamation is conclusive evidence that a state of war, invasion or real or apprehended insurrection exists.
Such a definition does not make it possible for Parliament or the courts to question the assessment made by the Government of an emergency or the need to use the legislation. The British legislation expired a little after World War I while the Canadian legislation has never been revoked. If the Progressive Conservative Party had been in power for longer periods since 1914, it might have had an opportunity to revoke this legislation. But as you can see, Madam Speaker, we are not missing any opportunity; while we are here, we are bringing in major changes.
Mr. Blackburn (Brant): I doubt that!
Mr. Ferland: My honorable friend would have liked to be on the Government’s side, but he has chosen to sit in the opposition.
It is generally felt that it is incumbent on the provinces to act to cope with peace time emergencies. In this case, how could one justify the provisions of the Emergencies Act dealing with public welfare emergencies? It may be that a peace time crisis could exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it. In this case, the province or provinces involved could decide to seek the federal Government’s assistance.
If a public order emergency occurred, it might be necessary to pool all the resources of the nation to cope with a crisis. Such a major operation could only be undertaken by the federal Government, because it alone has the power to requisition resources and move them from one province to another to meet an emergency situation. The provisions of the Act will make it possible for the federal Government to respond quickly to a province seeking an emergency declaration, pool the resources of the nation to meet the crisis, send help and divide in a fair way the burden of an intervention or the means to remedy the situation.
Where the direct impact of a public welfare emergency is mainly limited to a province, the Government could only declare that a public welfare emergency exists if requested to do so by the province directly involved.In the case of serious emergencies affecting more than one province, each of the provinces involved shall be consulted before an emergency can be declared to exist.
There are rumors at large, mention is made of civilian internment camps. As you know, there are rumormongers everywhere. I have still a minute left, Madam speaker, so I will conclude on this. This Government has no plans for setting up civilian internment camps. The enactment of the Emergencies Act and the Canada civil protection legislation have nothing to do with that. People should not try to suggest that Bill C-77 will open the door to the establishment of camps for detaining Canadians behind barbed wire. No, this is not in the Bill. Bill C-77 is a bill that was thought out thoroughly and prepared in agreement with the provinces, after numerous consultations. It is a modern piece of legislation that meets the aspirations of Canadians of year 2000.
Mr. Blackburn (Brant): I have a couple of questions I would like to put to my hon. friend and fellow member of the Standing Committee on National Defence. One has to do with a very old legal tenet in British and Canadian law, that is, the right to sue for redress. In this case I am speaking of civil law.
Apparently this Bill would prevent that recourse to the courts. Instead, compensation would come from the Minister, a politician, and not from the courts. If a citizen is not satisfied with the amount of compensation, he or she could not appeal to the courts but only to an assessor who is named by Order in Council, in other words, by that Minister.
I do not wish to put my hon. friend at a disadvantage. I do not know if he has a legal background. I do not have a legal background. But it seems to me that this is contrary to the basic legal right that all Canadians should have, that is, the right to take a grievance, in this case a civil grievance, before the court and have the court, which is outside of the political domain, outside of partisanship, decide on the merit of the case before it, and not go to someone—and I will not call him a flunky—who has been appointed by the Minister to act as an assessor. Would my hon. friend comment on that?
Mr. Ferland: Madam Speaker, of course, just like my colleague who sits on the Standing Committee on National Defence, I have no legal qualifications and I am not a lawyer myself.
For the first time however, the measure now before us, Bill C-77, is the first emergencies legislation in Canada recognizing that if Canada or the Government unfairly hurts its citizens by its actions, the latter can hope for compensation.
Unfortunately, Madam Speaker, I lack the legal competence to answer his questions, but I am sure that the committee, when the Bill is referred to it, he and I will call upon legal experts who can reassure both of us.
Mr. Parry: Madam Speaker, the Hon. Member for Portneuf (Mr. Ferland) knows full well that Bill C-77 creates a new category in Canadian jurisprudence, international emergencies. Clearly then the Government has an idea of the kind of crises that would be declared international emergencies.
For this reason, I would like to ask the Hon. Member whether he could give us some examples of the kind of crisis that will be declared under Bill C-77 as being an international emergency.
Mr. Ferland: Madam Speaker, I must say that I am not a jurist and that semantic exercises are always possible, but when we are speaking about an international emergency, we
are all aware of the problems caused by sabotage, bombs, and so on. We only have to watch the evening news on television to realize that international terrorism has become a major problem. I believe that this legislation could eventually allow Canada to come to an agreement with a number of other countries on common measures to fight this international problem. This could therefore be considered as an international emergency and Canada could join with other countries to try to deal with this scourge.
Mr. Hopkins: Madam Speaker, I want to ask my hon. friend a question about the Bill of Rights. He mentioned at the beginning of his speech that the Bill of Rights did not apply to the War Measures Act. He will understand that when the Bill of Rights was passed in 1960 the Diefenbaker Government got a lot of publicity for bringing it forward and passing it. However, that Government made another declaration that the Bill of Rights would not apply to the War Measures Act.
In retrospect, does the Hon. Member feel that the Diefenbaker Government of the day should have let the Bill of Rights take precedence over the War Measures Act, so that some of the things he has been talking about would not have happened?
Also, the Hon. Member will know that the Premier of the Province of Quebec and the Mayor of Montreal requested in writing in 1970 that emergency measures be brought in. Does he feel that the Government of the day did the right thing by acceding to that request, or does he think that that Government should have ignored it? I think this question is very important, because we have heard many comments about the bringing in of the War Measures Act in 1970. However, it must be clearly understood that it was specifically requested by the Premier of Quebec and the Mayor of Montreal.
Did the Government of the day do the right thing or the wrong thing? That is what I am asking my hon. friend.
Mr. Ferland: Madam Speaker, naturally, we cannot expect anything but a loaded question from our Liberal friends.
We should perhaps reflect on the situation which existed in Quebec in 1970. Naturally, there had been a request by the Mayor of Montreal and the Quebec Government for the Canadian Government to take action. Did this necessarily mean that the Canadian Government had to invoke the War Measures Act? The Hon. Member is perhaps in a better position to answer because he was in the House then as a member of the Government which was in favour of imposing the War Measures Act in Quebec in 1970.
I believe that the Government could have used other measures and other methods than those provided by the War Measures Act. The Canadian Government used a cannon rather than a fly swatter to kill a mosquito. In my opinion, the Government used an act which was too strong and provided much too extensive powers to deal with the situation.
I then lived in Quebec City, not too far from the Quebec Parliament, and I must say that all Quebecers were surprised one fine morning to find armed soldiers at all the doors and around all Government buildings. There was something of a panic. We must also remember that the physicians were on strike in Quebec at the time. Things were really going well in 1970 in Quebec!
What we have to remember, Madam Speaker, is that if Bill C-77 had existed in 1970, Quebecers would never have suffered what a number of them did suffer. I believe that the Canadian Parliament invoked a much too strict and too strong legislation to deal with the situation at the time. I believe that at the time, the police had the resources to conduct investigations and keep the situation under control. They may have needed additional manpower, but there was certainly no reason to ask the army to act as though Quebec were at war with Canada or one of the provinces. I think the War Measures Act, as it was applied in Quebec, went far beyond what the situation warranted.
I may add that, at the time, I was a private citizen and did not have access to certain information. However, on the basis of what I read in the newspapers and what I was able to find out, I believe that the people who were here in the House at the time and who on the basis of the information they had were capable of voting in favour of proclaiming the War Measures Act in Quebec—I believe those people should have been far more critical and should have realized that this legislation went far beyond what the situation warranted.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne): The period provided for questions and comments has now expired. Resuming debate. The Hon. Member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell (Mr. Boudria).
Mr. Althouse: Madam Speaker, I have a question for the Hon. Member.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne): The time for questions and comments has now expired. The Hon. Member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell (Mr. Boudria) on debate.
Mr. Don Boudria (Glengarry—Prescott—Russell): Madam Speaker, I welcome this opportunity today to take part in the debate on Bill C-77. I listened very carefully to the speeches we have heard in this Chamber, as you have, Madam Speaker, and one thing is pretty clear, and that is that certain Members of other political parties insist that the decision by the Government in 1970 to proclaim the War Measures Act was unwarranted.
As a matter of fact, the Hon. Member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke (Mr. Hopkins) asked a specific and
important question of a member of the Conservative Party, the Hon. Member for Portneuf (Mr. Ferland). He asked whether in fact in 1970 the Government of Canada did the right thing, or whether the Government of Canada at that time should have refused the request made by the Attorney General of a province and a mayor of the largest city in the land. Of course, he did not get an answer to that question. The only answer, albeit inadequate, was that perhaps there was a need for a few more policemen or something like that and that the measures used were far too great—
Mr. Della Noce: Excessive.
Mr. Boudria: Excessive is the word. I thank the Member opposite. The Member has reminded me for a very good reason. He wants to let Canadians believe that the measures were excessive to the requests made. Let me remind you, Madam Speaker, of the request made at that time. I read from the letter:
Under the circumstances, on behalf of the Government of Quebec, I request that emergency powers be provided as soon as possible so that more effective steps may be taken. I request particularly that such powers encompass the authority to apprehend and keep in custody individuals who, the Attorney General of Quebec has valid reasons to believe, are determined to overthrow the Government through violence and illegal means. According to the information we have and which is available to you, we are facing a concerted effort to intimidate and overthrow the Government and the democratic institutions of this province through planned and systematic illegal action, including insurrection. It is obvious that those participating in this concerted effort completely reject the principle of freedom under the rule of law.
That is the truth, and that was the request made by the Government of Quebec at that time. The request was not to send in six more policemen to patrol some place. Far from it. You have listened very attentively, Madam Speaker, to the statement I have just read from the Attorney General of the Province of Quebec at that time. For Members to stand in this House, either the Conservative Member who has just spoken—incidentally his Party supported the imposition of the War Measures Act at that time—or New Democratic Party Members, pretending that nothing happened, saying that someone in this House in 1970 cooked up this whole thing is just a little less than total honesty.
I read further from a letter sent by the Mayor of Montreal at the time. He said:
The chief of the Montreal Police has informed us that the means available to him are proving inadequate and that the assistance of higher levels of Government has become essential for the protection of society against the seditious plot and the apprehended insurrection in which the recent kidnappings were the first step.
It is obvious the request made at that time was, indeed, very serious. I am not saying that the War Measures Act was not a blunt instrument. I will agree that it is too blunt an instrument, but you have to remember what was asked for was asked by a duly elected Government of a province in this country and the mayor of the largest city in Canada. Given those two facts, and given the instrument available at the time, it is a little less than honest for some people to claim, in hindsight, some 16 or 17 years later that the wrong thing was done.
Members of Parliament at the time stated, and have stated since, that we needed a new Bill because the War Measures Act was too blunt an instrument. 1 want to congratulate my colleagues in the Liberal Party for their foresight and objectivity in the way they have dealt with this topic.
When the Liberal Government in the past attempted to reform this law, the only thing we heard was partisan rhetoric from the Conservative Party, which Party refused to let this kind of legislation proceed, claiming that it was a diabolical plot on the part of the evil people in Government who wanted a new War Measures Act so they could use it again at every whim, or some nonsense like that. The present Party in Official Opposition is far more reasonable. We understand there is a need to modify the law. 1 think Members of this House on the opposition benches should be credited for that. It is my duty to bring it to your intention, Madam Speaker, as I know you would want me to do.
The Bill Before us is a very serious piece of legislation. It should not be taken lightly by the Government or any Member of this House. The Bill with which we are dealing can have, could have and would have an impact on the fundamental freedoms of the citizens of Canada if and when it was used, and hopefully it never will be. Notwithstanding, one needs to be prepared and one needs to have legislation to ensure that our country can be protected while at the same time adhering to a delicate balance so that the rights of Canadians are not trampled upon unnecessarily.
In 1970, like most Members of this House, I was not a parliamentarian. A few Members here have had the honour and privilege of serving here for a number of years, but most of us were doing other things. 1 was on staff in Parliament here travelling around the corridors of this building seeing people in military gear, battle dress as a matter of fact, carrying guns. Those were indeed very sad things to see. Hopefully we will never again see a day in Canada that would necessitate any kind of similar action.
No one wants this new Bill to be used. It is like buying life insurance. One does not buy life insurance with the intention of reaping the benefits, because obviously that does not happen. The present War Measures Act is a piece of legislation that has been in existence for a long time and is in serious need of amendment. We know, for instance, it was initiated by the then Conservative Prime Minister, Sir Robert Borden. It was passed through Parliament in very little time because our country was at war, or just on the brink of War World War I. Since then the legislation has been used only twice. The second time was during the Second World War and finally during the October crisis of 1970.
Madam Speaker, we in the Liberal Party have no intention of drawing out the debate in this House as a matter of course.
What we want is a thorough discussion in the committee that will be responsible for considering the Bill. Subsequently, there are certain proposals, certain concerns and grievances we will want to bring before the House, and we hope that the Government will then make the requisite changes to improve the Bill.
Madam Speaker, I see it is almost lunch time. I will continue my comments later today.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne): Order. It being one o’clock, I do now leave the Chair until two o’clock this afternoon.
At 1 p.m. the House took recess.
MEASURE TO ENACT
The House resumed consideration of the motion of Mr. Beatty that Bill C-77, an Act to authorize the taking of special temporary measures to ensure safety and security during national emergencies and to amend other Acts in consequence thereof, be read the second time and referred to a legislative committee.
Mr. John Parry (Kenora—Rainy River): Madam Speaker, it is my privilege today to rise to speak on behalf of the constituents of Kenora—Rainy River about the replacement of the infamous War Measures Act.
With Bill C-77, the House of Commons is finally considering replacing the War Measures Act, seventeen years after the last time it was invoked. In discussing this Bill, I would like to recall some of my own experiences at the time when the War Measures Act was last used in Canada.
I came to Montreal in July 1970 and the War Measures Act was invoked the following October. I therefore have intimate knowledge about the effects of this piece of legislation.
Madam Speaker, if I may say so, it was one of my most instructive experiences as a new immigrant to Canada. This was finally one of the factors which led me to the New Democratic Party because, at my arrival in Canada, I had had the impression that the Liberal Party was a progressive party, the party of renewal, the socialist party, as I then saw it, which Canada needed. However, finally, it was the position taken by the then leader of the New Democratic Party, Mr. Douglas, that convinced me that there were other factors to consider in choosing my party in the context of a democratic federal system.
Madam Speaker, I remember well the sad day of the funeral of Mr. Pierre Laporte. My office at the Bank of Montreal headquarters were directly opposite the Notre-Dame church in Montreal. I also remember quite clearly seeing soldiers in the streets of Montreal and the often very emotional interaction between the citizens and these soldiers, most of whom were unilingual anglophones. My experience in Montreal at the time, when the War Measures Act was invoked, convinced me that it would eventually be necessary to replace it.
I am grateful that it is the Conservative Government which has finally introduced this replacement legislation in the House of Commons, even though the Liberals were in power for nearly 14 years and could have introduced their own piece of legislation. We had to wait for a change of Government to set a new Act.
We have to admit, Madam Speaker, that this Bill is clearly an improvement over the Act it replaces, but as members of the Opposition, it is our duty to see the defects in the legislation proposed by the Government.
In general terms, Bill C-77 sets out the general obligations of the Government for the safety and security of individuals, for the protection of the values of our society, and for the preservation of the orderly democratic function of the Canadian federal state. It says that there may be situations, although it does not adequately define or describe them, in which those functions of Government may be threatened by a form of national emergency which would imperil our collective well-being, either right across the country or in parts of the country, and might be beyond the power of the Government or, indeed, governments of the provinces, to address without additional powers provided for in this law.
While it would be easy for me to spend a considerable length of time reviewing the functions of a state, the philosophical and ideological underpinnings for the governments which we have at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels, I think I will content myself with a brief historical conspectus, simply to set the context for Bill C-77. The theory of the state, of course, arose in Greece and was developed somewhat in Rome. The theory and practice of the city-state—for such the original states of Greece were—gave rise to the development of a philosophy of politics. Indeed, of course, the word does come from the Greek. In this philosophy of politics it was recognized that because the state was a collective value and supposedly served all members of the state, it owed not only itself but also the citizens a duty to preserve itself as the state it was.
We have progressed beyond the Greek models, but I think it is instructive to observe that for many centuries, indeed, perhaps almost two millennia, the question of the reserve powers of a state when faced with either an internal or external threat was rarely discussed. The powers were virtually taken for granted. After all, it was an era when fundamental political debate had fallen out of fashion. Indeed, the development of the theory of what the state was saw little progress between the time of the coming of Christ and the writings of Machiavelli.
With the development of rational and modernist philosophy into the eighteenth century, the nature of the state began again to be called into question. There was one stream of thought that tended to the development of anarchism. There was also another stream of thought which tended toward a critical examination of the nature of the state and the powers that the state should hold.
Of course, this debate has extended into our own age and continues today. It may not be in as abstract or intellectual a form, because there exists of course much more opportunity in today’s society for the very existence of a state to be challenged.
However, we live today in a society that is highly technologized and highly independent. Therefore, the nature of possible disruptions of the functions of government and the functions of the state has expanded exponentially. I believe it would be fair to say that while we have the education, the communications, and the legal and even coercive instruments to completely outclass any other age in human history, nevertheless by the nature and the way in which society functions today, in many cases the state can be as vulnerable as it ever was.
It is in that context of vulnerability that I cannot let some features of this law pass, because it seems to me that in one aspect, at least, the law is inviting the sort of vulnerability that we would like to see it in fact address. Of course, that is the conferring of additional powers on the Senate through Bill C-77.
Presently, the Senate is acting in direct defiance of a democratically elected government. While it is a government that I happen to oppose and disagree with in broad terms, and even passionately in respect of some legislation that has been rejected by the Senate, it is nevertheless being subjected to conduct by the unelected Senate that really is capable of provoking an emergency, if we are to accept the very undefined nature of those emergencies that the law is supposed to address. Indeed, the present conduct of the unelected Canadian Senate could virtually be condemned as being treasonous to the philosophy and practice of democracy. Yet Bill C-77 has the potential for the Senate to act independent of the House of Commons.
While I appreciate that the Government has to produce legislation which is capable of passing in the Senate, given the present obstructive mood of the Senate, it seems to me that if one accepts the premises of the act on the nature of potential public order emergencies, there is a real potential for the Senate itself to provoke a public welfare emergency by some form of obstruction.
Whenever any government in this place, whether it be Conservative, New Democratic or Liberal, presents its borrowing bills, it seems to me that the very capacity for the Senate to abuse its power by excessive delay has the potential to provoke one of the types of emergencies that this Bill is indeed addressing. That may be cause for the Government to address directly with the Senate what its powers would be. I would simply enjoin the Government to ensure that the powers conferred upon the Canadian Senate in this Bill are the absolute minimum, to ensure that the Bill is able to function as a piece of legislation.
There is a real challenge in the framing of emergency powers legislation within the context of a federal state, and within the context of a federal state as large as Canada. The fact is that we have regional interests within Canada that in many ways are apparently opposed to the interests of other regions. Let us be very careful about what we seek to define as the national interest within the context of a federal state and within the context of very different and very diverse regions. For example, are we to say that the existence of a separatist party in one province or one region of the country is in some way itself an indication of a potential emergency that might have to be addressed under this law? I hope that we never have to make that sort of qualification or judgment because I believe that the separatist parties that this country has seen have generally conducted themselves responsibly in the context of a federal state and within the context of a Canadian Confederation.
However, let us also not forget that one woman’s or one man’s unity is another person’s bondage. In particular, those who are close to the centres of powers and influence, the centres of economic production, are very prone to adopt unrealistic and profoundly unfair assumptions about the lives, the opinions and the attitudes of those who are living on the periphery of those centres of power.
Let us examine what this could mean in practical terms. When two Members of the Progressive Conservative Party of the Province of Saskatchewan defected to set up a party dedicated to the union of western Canada with the United States, was that an example of something that could have turned into a public order emergency? I would not think so, on the face of it. Of course, we did not see any form of public support for that sort of motive, but we must be careful in the framing of emergency powers legislation to acknowledge that there is a possibility for this sort of movement to adopt positions that could be inimical to what the rest of the country would perceive as the national interest. Therefore, the necessity exists and must be recognized for the maintenance of a very careful and sensitive, indeed, very understanding balance of what is seen as the national interest and what is recognized as legitimate interests of various parts of this country.
Another defect of the legislation I should point out is the way in which it generally does not contemplate a role for the court system. The court system has its own problems. It moves at a speed which has been subject to a lot of condemnation. Yet the court system certainly has some strengths within Canada. We see in the brief of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, for example, recommendations that the court
system be better integrated in the administration of emergency powers legislation, that there be provisions for court review of such legislation, and that there be more provisions for the appeal of certain parts of the legislation, certain orders under the legislation, to the court system. This is certainly something I would commend to the legislative committee as well as to the Government for study.
The recommendation for the indemnification of agents and servants of the Government for individual responsibility is that the Government should assume all individual responsibilities as part of its collective responsibility when its agents, servants or officers are charged with the carrying out of certain functions under emergency powers legislation.
Finally, let me refer to the proposals on the definition of international emergencies. I can understand the difficulty in which the Government must have found itself in framing this part of the legislation. It is something of a strange hybrid in a country as large as ours that an international emergency other than a war emergency, involving a direct threat of organized military force against the country, should be contemplated.
Indeed, the provision for the consultation of provinces, while it is, of course very Canadian, and I think would be widely supported throughout the country, is one that within the context of international emergency should at least give cause for thought. Over-all, as I mentioned earlier, there can be no doubt that Bill C-77 is an improvement over the Bill it is intended to replace.
Parliamentary oversight and review of the invocation of emergencies legislation will be much greater under this Bill than under its predecessor. Both pieces of legislation have provision for the parliamentary revocation of a declaration of emergency, but on any comparative analysis, it could be seen that under Bill C-77 it would come much sooner.
Finally, another strength of this particular Bill is that the provisions for compensation and redress of damages are much more comprehensive than those in the War Measures Act. Over-all, we have a piece of legislation that, from the most complimentary assessment, is a good first-cut in improving on the old War Measures Act. I would commend to the Government the task of further improving it.
Mr. Blackburn (Brant): Madam Speaker, I have one question I would like to put to my colleague. It is listed as one of the recommendations of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in its brief to the Minister. It is an excellent brief, I might add, one which I hope the Government will look at very closely. I know the Minister will. I think it is certainly worthy of very close scrutiny, and I would hope that the Canadian Civil Liberties Association would be one of the first witnesses to come before the legislative committee. The thirteenth recommendation of the association reads as follows: The elimination of the power to prohibit and regulate public assemblies during public order emergencies.
A public order emergency, of course, would be a similar situation to the October crisis of 1970. This is the section of the Bill which gives, I would think, the most problems at this point because we would not be at war, there would be no international crisis. It would be a domestic issue here at home.
I would like to ask the Hon. Member if he not only agrees with this recommendation, but to what extent does he consider the prohibition and regulation of public assemblies during an internal disorder in the country? It seems to me that it is the very essence of denying our freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, even though there may be an internal disorder, to prohibit or to regulate the free association of citizens during that kind of crisis.
Mr. Parry: Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for that question. Indeed, he brings to light, as does the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, perhaps the single most repugnant aspect of this legislation, the ability to prohibit and regulate public assembly during public order emergencies. I think that in today’s society it is really quite an unnecessary power and one, I believe, most Canadians would find to be quite repugnant. The purpose, of course, of forbidding freedom of assembly has historically been to prevent the contagion of ideas and information spreading throughout the populace, though in fact the only form of contagion that I think could be adequately prevented would be some form of plague situation. I believe, first, that the power is unnecessary in an age when the dissemination of information through a literate populace is so easy. I am not sure what could possibly be accomplished in terms of preventing information from spreading. In so far as the other purpose of assembly is concerned, which, obviously, is to discuss and to generate sentiment for some form of action, 1 would question under what circumstances that would ever be a legitimate objective of the Government.
My belief is that the common law system over the centuries has proven to be an instrument of great effectiveness and flexibility in addressing those situations which are seen as a threat to society or to the state. History records that the Riot Act of the United Kingdom was introduced in response to assemblies of Chartists who were basically working-class democrats seeking a reordering of British society. If memory serves me correctly, at least until recently, there was a Canadian equivalent of the Riot Act on the books. One of the things that gave me great amusement when I was Mayor of Sioux Lookout was the thought that someday I might have to read the Riot Act to a populace which had presumably become dissatisfied with some activity of the municipal Government.
It seems to me that the common law and the Criminal Code of Canada adequately control the sort of actions which might flow from any form of assembly. If an assembly takes it into its head to damage property, the sanctions of the Criminal Code apply. If an assembly takes it into its head to pursue, harass or attack individuals, the common law provides a remedy for that. Therefore, I am not really apprised of what legitimate Canadian purpose the Government would hope to accomplish
by the inclusion in Bill C-77 of that power to prohibit and regulate public assemblies during public order emergencies.
Public assembly is another interesting concept, one that should be looked at. For example, when the Government assembles people for a meeting, can that be seen as a public assembly? Indeed, could the Government find that it was violating its own orders and then be subjected to some sanction through the court system?
One of the favourite arenas of protest now in Iran, which has one of the most horrendously oppressive and anti-human rights regimes in the entire world, is the soccer match. In that country a soccer match is not seen to be a public assembly. Those who are discontented with the regime’s terrible oppression of people of different faiths or different political beliefs frequently congregate at soccer matches and take on from the soccer match to protest against some particularly repugnant act of that Government.
Would worship be defined as a public assembly? Could members of a church gathering on a Sunday morning, in ignorance of something having happened on the Saturday night, assembling for an outdoor service find themselves subjected to some form of control? By meeting outdoors they could be considered a public assembly. Even by meeting indoors they could be considered a public assembly. I believe that the Government would serve the public interest and its own interests better by discarding that provision.
Mr. Hopkins: Madam Speaker, I want to ask the Hon. Member who just spoke a question, one which I put to the Conservative Member who spoke last and who did not answer the question. As the Hon. Member knows, in 1960 the Diefenbaker Government brought in its Bill of Rights. After glorying in the publicity surrounding the Bill of Rights it then decided that it would not apply to the War Measures Act. If the Bill of Rights had applied to the War Measures Act over the years there would have been that very definite restraint built into the legislation.
Would the Hon. Member comment as to why the Diefenbaker Government would think of removing the War Measures Act as a piece of legislation that was affected by the Bill of Rights? Why would it not let the Bill of Rights take its way if, indeed, it was to be a meaningful Bill of Rights for the country?
Mr. Parry: Madam Speaker, I can understand the previous recipient of the question not answering it. Indeed, the Hon. Member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke (Mr. Hopkins) may find after I have responded that he would like to ask the question of another.
Of course, I cannot speak for the Diefenbaker Government. I can only say that every Government since the Diefenbaker Government of 1960 surely bears equal responsibility for the continued non-application of the Canadian Bill of Rights to the War Measures Act. Therefore, I would assume that it was not only the Diefenbaker Government in introducing the Bill of Rights which said it did not apply to the War Measures Act but every subsequent Government that did not make the Bill of Rights apply to it. Those Governments are equally responsible for the decision since, of course, not to decide is to decide.
MEASURE TO ENACT
The House resumed consideration of the motion of Mr. Beatty that Bill C-77, an Act to authorize the taking of special temporary measures to ensure safety and security during national emergencies and to amend other Acts in consequence thereof, be read the second time and referred to a legislative committee.
Mr. Joe Reid (St. Catharines): Madam Speaker, first, I would like to commend the Hon. Member for Kenora—Rainy River (Mr. Parry) on his reasoned approach to this Bill. He pointed out that this Bill far surpasses the War Measures Act in its approach to civil rights and in keeping a balance between emergencies, national disasters, wars or international occasions, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Bill of Rights, and the 1967 International Code enacted by the United Nations with respect to political and civil rights. Therefore, I expect the Hon. Member to support this Bill when it comes to a vote.
I am delighted to have this opportunity to speak to a Bill from a rather long record, good or bad, of local government administration where planning and preparedness with respect
to any kind of an emergency was an absolute necessity. We all went through the hurricane Hazel of 1967, the year of the snow white-out in the Niagara Peninsula. At that time children were in schools for as long as three days. We had to mobilize the ham radio people and people with snowmobiles to provide emergency services so that those persons might continue to live.
I feel that the Government has taken a strong, bold step forward in the area of planning and preparedness for a wide range of emergencies. The Government made a commitment and, as the preamble to the Bill states, it is a commitment to ensure safety and security during national emergencies—any kind of emergency. The Bill is divided in parts to cover that wide range of emergencies and what kinds of declarations would have to accompany each.
This commitment was fulfilled with the introduction of the Emergency Preparedness Act. We know that Bill C-77 is a complementary Bill to Bill C-76 which Bill provided for the revocation of the Emergency Planning Order passed in 1981. This order was criticized by practically all Parties in the House as a source of numerous misunderstandings and for its legal basis. It is based inappropriately and on a Crown prerogative rather than on statute law of the land. This means that to date the role, the responsibilities and the mandate of emergency preparedness in Canada has not yet been defined by statute or by an Act of Parliament. The proposal then to make Emergency Preparedness Canada an independent agency with a mandate to co-ordinate emergency planning at the federal level is viewed favourably by provincial Governments. In fact, they encourage the passage of such legislation.
This initiative is also an indication of the federal Government’s desire to be ready and able to respond appropriately to such an emergency when it should arise in the protection and the security of Canadians and in a global environment that is becoming increasingly complex.
The establishment of Emergency Preparedness Canada as an independent agency with a mandate defined by statute is intended, first, to increase the Government’s ability to prepare for and deal with emergencies. Second, it is to clarify the respective responsibilities of the federal and provincial Governments with a view to closer co-operation, co-ordination and preparedness for action. Third, it is to improve the coordination of the emergency measures and the emergency preparedness of both federal Departments and agencies.
This change in the status of Emergency Preparedness Canada will not affect its primary role or its mandate as the co-ordinator of federal emergency preparedness. The responsibilities of the various Ministers for emergency planning within their respective sectors of statutory responsibility remain unchanged. The transformation of Emergency Preparedness Canada into a independent agency will not require the commitment of any additional human or financial resources. The proposal will make it possible for Parliament to control the normal procedures—
Mr. Hopkins: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I hesitate to interrupt my hon. friend opposite, but we are debating Bill C-77 and Emergency Preparedness Canada is Bill C-76. I think that the Hon. Member is delivering the wrong speech. He should be on Bill C-77, emergency measures.
Mr. Reid: Madam Speaker, as I indicated, Bill C-76 is complementary; it is a sister Bill to Bill C-77. Emergency Preparedness Canada is an integral part of the operation of Bill C-77. That is why I am putting it before this House, in order that Members on both sides of the House will be able to look at the whole approach by the Government to emergency measures. I ask the Hon. Member opposite to keep in mind the purpose and the existence of Emergency Preparedness Canada.
The transformation of Emergency Preparedness Canada into this independent agency with a statutory background of approval will not require the commitment of any additional human and financial resources. The proposal will make it possible for Parliament to control, through normal procedures, the operation of a government agency that has existed and operated for a number of years without a mandate from Parliament.
Emergency Preparedness Canada will benefit greatly from its new status; its ability to prepare to respond to emergencies will no longer be linked to fluctuations in the interest of the public or of the Government. The advantages of those two Bills proposed for second reading are self-evident.
What is proposed is the repeal of an unjust, inhuman, obsolete statute, and of an ambiguous order, and replacement by two Acts that provide for coherent measured preparedness as a response to various types of emergencies. In addition, two Acts will offer a single, integrated federal approach to emergency preparedness.
Of course, all Acts can be improved upon. That is what my hon. friend from Kenora—Rainy River was referring to. While he indicated that this two-Act approach was a great improvement over the existing War Measures Act, there may be further improvements, but we must pass this improvement now.
However, they have been prepared with the interest of the general community of Canada in mind, with the aim of safeguarding their freedoms and civil rights to the maximum extent possible. This proposed legislation includes an extensive set of specific safeguards that would probably be neglected in the event of ad hoc legislation brought forth by a Government under the pressure of a time of crisis.
The interests of the provinces will also be protected effectively in emergencies, because there has been that consultation and co-operation in the approach to the legislation. The consultative mechanisms provided for in the Bills are without precedent in Canadian constitutional history. They guarantee
to the provinces an important role before any declaration of an emergency has been or will be made.
The legislation about to be enacted will protect all Canadians more effectively in the future. The establishment of Emergency Preparedness Canada as an independent agency, at no additional expense, will have that effect.
For this reason, I support the Bill and urge all Members to hasten its passage by giving it their support as a bold step forward in the protection of civil liberties and civil rights in time of emergency.
Mr. Althouse: I wonder if the Hon. Member would explain if there is any change between Bill C-77 and the current War Measures Act? When I look at Clause 4 of the Bill it states, “When the Governor in Council is of the opinion that—” and it goes on to permit it to declare an emergency after consultation with the provinces, and so on.
Being aware that a similar process did occur in the October crisis in 1970 when the Government of the day, in consultation with the Province of Quebec, and apparently also the City of Montreal, which would not be necessary in this Bill, was of the opinion that an emergency was imminent. What would be different in this Bill as opposed to the old War Measures Act which permitted the same things to happen?
Is not the crucial part of this Bill and the existing War Measures Act the key phrase “the opinion of the Government”? Does the Hon. Member not think that there should be some strengthening of the wording in order that the Government’s opinions be more restricted and guided by certain events having unfolded, or at least proof that certain events were in fact imminent, and that those reasons be given for implementing the emergency powers rather than to leave it as open as this Bill does? We feel that it is a criticism of the previous Act. I am sure that the Hon. Member went through the 1970 emergency and had those same criticisms of the existing War Measures Act.
Mr. Reid: I am delighted to have the opportunity to respond again for the purpose of enlightening my colleague. Bill C-77, as the Hon. Member knows, is in four separate parts. It deals with emergencies of different types and natures, the last two of which are international crises. The last one to which he refers, Part IV, deals with times of war.
The Hon. Member will know that the encroachment on civil rights and liberties will vary as one type of emergency moves into another. The Hon. Member will also know that whereas the War Measures Act was introduced in a time of war for war purposes, not for a critical situation as existed in 1970 to be adopted holus-bolus for application all across the country where it was a regional matter, this Bill provides for an application enacted and supported by a Parliament to deal with the situation and the emergency as it exists and of the type and nature that does exist. That is the difference, the statute background and statute application.
Mr. Althouse: I wished to make it clear to the Hon. Member that I was speaking of Clause 4 of this Bill which is under Part I. I was quoting from the clause relating to “Declaration of a public welfare emergency”. It seems to be quite dependent upon the opinion of the federal Government of the day, the Governor in Council, and a shared opinion between the federal Government of whatever stripe, and a particular province. As long as there is agreement between the province and the existing federal Government, and they are of the opinion that such an emergency exists, it would be called.
I am wondering if the Hon. Member, being a lawyer, might not agree with the Civil Liberties Association. It indicated that there are ways of tightening up that wording so that government, meaning the federal Government and the provincial Governments in this case, would not have quite so much discretion to use the powers of the Act to create a situation where it would appear that something was happening in the rest of the country which was not in fact the case. History has shown that that is what went on with the stronger powers of the War Measures Act being used in the Province of Quebec.
Mr. Reid: Madam Speaker, I apologize if I misunderstood the Hon. Member in the first instance.
Mr. Althouse: I should have said it better.
Mr. Reid: If he is talking about Clause 4, it applies to a public welfare emergency. This make it even less comparable with the War Measures Act to which he compared it.
The Bill itself describes what is a public welfare emergency. It talks about fire, flood, drought, storm, and earthquake. There is nothing there about an international crisis nor about a war situation.
In this instance the application of Clause 4 would give to the Governor in Council the right of immediate and quick action to remedy a situation where the people of a particular area, probably an isolated area, need quick action. That possibility will be there.
Mr. Hopkins: Madam Speaker, the Hon. Member for Kenora—Rainy River (Mr. Parry) said that nothing was done by succeeding Governments after 1960. I would point out to him that in 1982 the Charter of Rights was brought in to take precedence over the War Measures Act. I think that should go on record because he said that nothing was done by succeeding Governments.
I would like to ask a question of the Hon. Member for St. Catharines (Mr. Reid) for whom I have the greatest respect. Does he feel that the compensation part, Part V of the Bill, is fair in that there is really no appeal beyond the Federal Court level and that the Government has the right to set levels of compensation? Even if persons are not satisfied and feel that they have been injured, or not properly paid for damages done to them, there is really no appeal for them to go beyond that
and get what they feel is a just decision. I think it is the final paragraph which simply states that there shall be no appeal except through Section 28 of the Federal Court Act.
Does the Hon. Member not feel that there should be an appeal to the senior courts of the land? Since we are dealing with Canadian citizens, should they not have the right to the court system as it exists in Canada as opposed to the Government of the day setting what standards of court procedures will be used to handle legitimate complaints by Canadian citizens?
I know the Hon. Member is very fair, and I think he will have an answer.
Mr. Reid: Madam Speaker, I had the advantage of being present while the Hon. Member opposite asked that question earlier. I do not agree with him when he says that there is no right of appeal. Compensation varies according to circumstances, the nature of the emergency, and the nature of the liability. His objection is really that there is no right of appeal to the courts. I think that is what he is talking about now.
There is a right of appeal in the legislation to a Federal Court judge, one of the senior judges of the land appointed to hear an appeal and to make an assessment. That person has the right to disallow, add to, or whatever, just as an arbitrator would do under similar circumstances.
If I might, I heard the Hon. Member say earlier that he did not have any legal training so this was rather strange to him. However, there is a trend or a movement away from the high cost court system to arbitration courts. Real estate or the expropriation of properties would be one example. They move to someone not necessarily cloaked in the great rigidness of a court room but into an informal setting where evidence can be heard in a more casual way and where they get down to the nitty-gritty of the situation much more readily and at less expense.
However, the nitty-gritty of the situation is that we have a judicially trained person to hear the appeal, and I am satisfied that we will come up with the right result.
Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby): Madam Speaker, the legislation currently before the House, Bill C-77, deals with issues that are of profound concern in a country which values democracy and civil liberties. Indeed, it is for that reason that my colleagues and I intend to debate in all seriousness and at the length that this legislation requires the important issues which arise from Bill C-77.
Certainly it is long, long overdue that Parliament address itself to the repeal of the War Measures Act. This repugnant piece of legislation has been the vehicle of terrible abuses of civil liberties in Canada from the date that it was first passed with a minimum of debate in 1914. I believe it was about half an hour of debate.
In fact, two of the most fundamental and Draconian instances of the abuse of the civil liberties of Canadians occurred under the provisions and under the authority of the War Measures Act. I say without hesitation that we welcome the long overdue repeal of the Act.
In speaking of the two very serious abuses, I refer to the internment of Canadians of Japanese origin and the confiscation of their property in the 1940s. Because of the limitation on time I will not dwell at length on the terrible violation which occurred at that time. However, it was in February, 1942 that Japanese Canadians were divested of all human rights and freedoms and were effectively branded as enemy aliens by the Government of Canada. During the seven years which followed, from 1942 to 1949, the Canadian Government forced 21,000 people of Japanese origin from their homes; confined most of them in detention camps, many in the interior of my own Province of British Columbia; sold off all their real and personal property; and forced them to scatter across Canada or, in some cases, to be shipped to Japan. Of those 21,000 Canadians over 17,000 were citizens of the country. They were claimed to be a threat to the security of our land. We know, of course, that that was false and that that treatment was motivated by political opportunism and racism.
Some 40 years later, Japanese Canadians, victims of this terrible abuse of their rights, are still seeking redress. They are still seeking not only an apology from the Government, from the Parliament of Canada, but they seek as well a recognition that they are entitled to individual compensation. It is not possible to quantify in all cases a wrong of this magnitude. Nevertheless, certainly the principle of individual compensation to those Canadians who are so abused, so victimized, whose dignity was assaulted in such a way, is long overdue.
I remember the Prime Minister of Canada (Mr. Mulroney), then the Leader of the Official Opposition, standing in his place on this side of the House asking former Prime Minister Trudeau why he would not accept that principle of the right of Canadians of Japanese origin to be compensated individually. Three years later that same Prime Minister and that same Government have refused to implement that principle. This is interesting, particularly in light of the recent decision of the United States Congress to provide not only for an apology but for individual compensation in the amount of $25,000 U.S. to those who were victims. But we see a Canadian Minister saying with respect to this compensation that the people will not get it. It is right to apologize but the wrong cannot be bought by an amount of cash. “We are not talking money”.
In the context of legislation that would repeal the War Measures Act, surely the Government should reconsider that decision and recognize its obligation to those who are victims of that same legislation which is now being repealed and provide for that long overdue compensation. Similarly—
Madam Speaker, there were other victims of the War Measures Act, and I am referring now to the 469 Canadian
men and women living in Quebec who were sent to prison and stayed there during the October 1970 crisis. Again, it was under the War Measures Act that 435 persons were jailed, 234 of them without warrants. Only 5 of these Quebec men and women were sentenced following their incarcerations.
Madam Speaker, it was under former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and his Minister of Justice that the War Measures Act was first proclaimed in time of peace. We are referring today to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Turner) who was Minister of Justice at the time and who tried to justify this massive violation of the rights of Canadian men and women living both in Quebec and elsewhere. So far, Madam Speaker, this former Minister of Justice and present Leader of the Liberal Party has refused to admit that this was a fundamental error. Even yesterday, we heard the Hon. Member for York Centre (Mr. Kaplan), the Justice critic for the Liberal Party, declare in the House:
“The use of the War Measures Act in 1970 has been challenged. I was a member of the Party that introduced it, and subsequently a member of the Government that defended it.” And the spokesman for the Liberal Party is saying today: “I defend it today”.
Madam Speaker, that is the position of the Liberal Party. Today still it continues to defend the proclamation of the War Measures Act in 1970. It is unbelievable! It is shameful! I sèe the Hon. Member is now entering the House, perhaps he might try to clear up that point.
On October 19, 1976, only 16 Members voted against the proclamation of the War Measures Act. Among these 16 Members were the Hon. Member for Oshawa (Mr. Broadbent), now leader of the NDP, the Hon. Member for Yorkton— Melville (Mr. Nystrom) who is still a Member of the House, the Hon. Member for Winnipeg North (Mr. Orlikow) who is still a Member of the House, and the then leader of the NDP, Mr. Tommy Douglas; this had to be one of the proudest moments for all New Democrats in Canada. Madam Speaker, I hope that men and women in Quebec did not forget that it was the NDP and the NDP alone—not the Conservative Party, not the Liberal Party—which was prepared to say no, which was prepared to say that, even though 88 per cent of Canadians had supported the proclamation of the War Measures Act, it was unacceptable. And, Madam Speaker, it is unacceptable today that such bad legislation should remain in our statute books.
Those were two of the gravest abuses of the War Measures Act, the problem of Canadians of Japanese origin and la Proclamation en 1970, but there have been many others. I know my colleague, the Hon. Member for Spadina (Mr. Heap), will be speaking of some of the other abuses that have occurred under the War Measures Act.
Indeed, the Conservative Government, the Diefenbaker Government of 1960, in bringing forward the Canadian Bill of Rights decided to allow the War Measures Act explicitly to override the fundamental protections inherent in the Bill of Rights. Certainly that was a decision that we differed with fundamentally in 1960 and we differ with today.
What is the position today with respect to the provisions of the War Measures Act, Madam Speaker? In 1982, Parliament adopted a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is true that the War Measures Act and all other federal Acts are subject to challenge under the provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Despite that safeguard which we recognize, despite our knowledge that some of the worst abuses of the War Measures Act in 1970 and in the 1940s would very likely no longer be possible today because of the right to appeal to the judiciary under the provisions of the Charter, nevertheless, we welcome as long, long overdue the repeal of this odious statute from our law books. But in saying that, and in recognizing the accomplishment of the Government in moving at least to repeal this repugnant statute once and for all from our statute books, we must examine with care the Bill which is presented to this House to replace the War Measures Act.
As the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has clearly and persuasively documented, Bill C-77 contains vague definitions, over broad powers and inadequate safeguards. It goes on to state that there is too little effort to link the powers it would create with the perils for which they are designed, that there is too little effort to achieve proportionality between available powers and anticipated perils. The Civil Liberties Association suggests that before we proceed any further with this legislation the Government should clarify to Canadians and to Parliament exactly what kind of emergencies the legislation seeks to address, precisely which powers the Government seeks to deal with those emergencies, and why the current legislation on the statute books cannot deal with those concerns.
I note that legislation providing for these sweeping powers in times of peace does not exist in the United States of America or in the United Kingdom. Indeed, the McDonald Commission, in making recommendations to the Government on this subject, stated that it opposed the granting of special powers in a Bill of this nature. The commission suggested that the Government should seek the approval of Parliament for special legislation to deal with the particular concerns at hand. What are some of the major weaknesses of the new legislation?
My colleagues, and in particular my colleague the Member for Brant (Mr. Blackburn), have set out very clearly and forcefully our major concerns with respect to this legislation. I will touch on only two or three of them in the few minutes that remain.
The reference to public welfare emergency in Clause 3 of the legislation gives rise to serious concern. What is a public welfare emergency? Indeed, what is an emergency for that matter? Nowhere in this legislation is there a very clear definition of “emergency”.
With regard to a public welfare emergency there is reference to a breakdown in the flow of essential goods, services or resources. As my colleague from Brant has pointed out, this legislation could be invoked to interfere in a dispute between management and labour. The Minister of National Defence (Mr. Beatty) who is responsible for this legislation said yesterday that we should not worry, that there is no problem, that this will not in fact be used. However, his words should be read with care because he stated that this Act is not intended to be used to settle a legitimate dispute between an employer and employees.
What does that mean? Does it mean that if the Government believes that there is an illegitimate dispute, an illegal work stoppage for example, it can use the provisions of this legislation? This is no safeguard whatsoever. For the Minister to come before the House and suggest that an amendment of that nature constitutes a safeguard is rejected by the New Democratic Party.
Similarly, there are concerns raised by other provisions. The fact that the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the right to strike is not protected by the Charter is another reason for making it very clear in this legislation that it should not apply to any withdrawal of labour, be that legitimate or, in the eyes of the Government, illegitimate.
Concerns have also been raised with respect to the definition in Clause 3(b) of a public welfare emergency with respect to “disease in human beings, animals or plants”. This instrument, in the wrong hands, could be used to bring forward Draconian provisions to deal with AIDS in Canada. Indeed, we have seen proposals for quarantine legislation in the Province of British Columbia from the ideological soul mates of this Government at the provincial level in British Columbia. We should be very careful before according similar powers to the federal Government.
Similarly, the definition of public order emergency incorporates the definition of threats to the security of Canada from Section 2 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act. We know that that definition is far too broad and far too sweeping. We know that under the guise of investigating threats to the security of Canada the security service itself is a profound threat to the security of Canada. Under the guise of that definition it has investigated the labour movement, the peace movement, and legal political Parties in Canada. This Government would incorporate that definition in a way which would allow it to prohibit public assembly in Canada. That constitutes a shocking potential abuse of civil liberties. In response to that the Minister says:
I would remind Members of the House that the definition of “threats to the security of Canada” received exhaustive scrutiny by Parliament in 1983 …. The language—has, therefore, already received Parliament’s blessing. The Minister has a rather selective memory. It was the Conservative Party that joined with the New Democratic Party in condemning that very definition and suggesting that that definition constituted a grave threat to the civil liberties of Canada. Now, four years later, a Minister from that Party is saying that as Parliament adopted that definition there is nothing wrong with it and the Government is going to use it as a basis for its emergency legislation. Obviously that is totally unacceptable.
It is also unacceptable because, as I understand, the special committee struck by the Solicitor General (Mr. Kelleher) under Gordon Osbaldeston will be telling the Government that that definition is in fact far too broad and should be narrowed substantially.
Finally, we have serious concerns about the definition of international emergency. It is far too sweeping to say, “Any threat to the economic well-being of any ally of Canada”. In conclusion, I would like to draw to the attention of the House perhaps the most dangerous provision of all, that being the provision in Clause 38 with respect to war emergencies, which states:
While a declaration of a war emergency is in effect, the Governor in Council may make such orders or regulations as, in the opinion of the Governor in Council, are reasonably necessary or advisable for dealing with the emergency. That is the War Measures Act all over again, Madam Speaker. It provides for no control and total government discretion. I call upon the Government to recognize that while the time has come to repeal the War Measures Act, this Draconian piece of legislation, which continues to constitute a massive assault on the civil liberties and rights of Canadians, must be firmly rejected by this Parliament. It should go back to the drawing board.
Mr. Heap: Madam Speaker, I am very grateful to the Hon. Member for Burnaby (Mr. Robinson) for laying out so many of the important aspects of this Bill and the problems which it presents. He seems to be of the opinion that in some ways this Bill may even be worse than its predecessor.
Without going into that, Madam Speaker, I would be interested to hear the Hon. Member explain a little more clearly the point he made in connection with the concept of a public order emergency and the threat to the security of Canada. He said that at that time the then Conservative opposition caucus agreed with the NDP caucus that the definition contained in the CSIS Act was unsatisfactory. He pointed out that they have now flip-flopped and said that it is satisfactory.
I know that the Hon. Member gave that matter very careful attention at the time. I would be interested to hear him remind us what the unsatisfactory aspects of the definition were considered to be at that time. If he can recall, what were the points upon which the Conservative caucus expressed its agreement with the criticism made by the NDP which the Member put forward as our critic? It is important that the public be reminded of the positions which the present Ministers and other members of the Government held four years ago on this matter in order that the public can evaluate their reliability when they make promises now, when they say that they would not use this legislation against a legitimate strike.
How changeable are they? Would it be four years before they reversed themselves again, or might they reverse themselves in one year? 1 think the public needs a chance to compare what they said four years ago with what they are saying now. Could the Hon. Member for Burnaby give us some examples?
Mr. Robinson: Madam Speaker, I thank the Hon. Member for Spadina for that question. It gives me an opportunity to elaborate on what was the position of the Conservative Party in 1983 and 1984. I might say that I recall well the exceptional work and contribution made by the Member for Spadina during the debate on that particular legislation creating CSIS.
At the time this legislation was before the House, the Conservative Party was in opposition and it raised vigorous objections to the Liberal Government’s proposed definition of threats to the security of Canada. Conservative Members voted against the definition and supported amendments which I proposed. Indeed, they proposed amendments themselves that would narrow the definition.
There are a number of examples, including subsection (c) of the definition in the CSIS Act which states: “Activities within or relating to Canada, directed toward or in support of the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property for the purpose of achieving a political objective within Canada or a foreign state”.
It was pointed out, for example, that a church group which wanted to support the African National Congress or a liberation movement in Central America by holding a rummage sale to send funds to that particular group would be deemed under this definition to be a threat to the security of Canada. Clearly that is a dangerous definition and one which gives far too much power to CSIS.
As well, there is the whole question of “foreign influenced activities within or relating to Canada that are detrimental to the interests of Canada”. That provision has been used by CSIS to attack the peace movement in Canada.
The Conservatives spoke in the House and spoke in committee, saying this definition must be changed because it is a threat to the civil liberties of Canadians. They also said that we need a safeguard in the Bill, and parliamentary oversight of CSIS, with a parliamentary committee similar to the congressional committees in the United States. They called for that parliamentary oversight.
The Conservatives have been in Government for over three years. We now see the sorry spectacle of a Conservative Minister standing up and defending that Liberal legislation, which the same Minister was attacking when he was an opposition Member. That is a sorry spectacle and one of which I think Canadians should be well aware as they evaluate this legislation.
The Conservatives are effectively asking Canadians to trust them. They are asking Canadians to trust that these powers will not be abused. I do not believe that their record warrants that kind of trust. On the contrary, the labour movement in Canada, for example, has every reason for profound mistrust of the record of the Government when it comes to intervention in a heavy-handed and undemocratic manner.
I want to close my response by referring to the report of the Security Intelligence Review Committee on this question. The committee has stated that CSIS too readily accepts the foreign policy objectives of the United States as our own and it neglects Canadian policy. It states that CSIS is expanding money and effort on too many counter subversion targets and intruding on the lives and activities of too many Canadians in this area.
Instead of bringing forward legislation that would grant even more powers to deny civil liberties, as this legislation would do, I suggest that the Government should be moving forward to limit the sweeping mandate of CSIS, to ensure that law abiding Canadians are not subject to the abuse of their rights and civil liberties as they are today by this agency of the Conservative Government.
Mr. Manly: Madam Speaker, I was interested in the Hon. Member’s reference to the shameful internment of the Japanese and the expropriation of their property. He pointed out that this was motivated on the one hand by political expediency and by racism on the other. Ken Adachi in his book entitled The Enemy That Never Was provides some very vivid testimony from Mackenzie King’s diaries as to both those points. He points out that at the time of Pearl Harbour Mackenzie King wrote in his diary that the Government had considered at some length the fact that it believed the Japanese nationals and Canadian born Japanese were loyal and did not constitute a threat. That was the belief of the Government at that time. It subsequently acted in a very expedient way, giving way to the kind of hysteria that prevailed in some parts of Canada later on.
As far as the racism is concerned, later on in Mackenzie King’s diary he expressed his gratitude that the atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese rather than on the white races of Europe. That shameful part of Canadian history is something that all Members of this House want to repudiate.
Given the wide powers that we have in Clause 38 of the Bill, is it possible that if it were in place in the 1940s, even with the reference to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that kind of shameful event would have taken place in Canadian history?
Mr. Robinson: Madam Speaker, unfortunately, the answer to that question is yes, it is possible that that kind of abuse could occur. Indeed, the issue of compensation is another element of the legislation that raises very serious questions. In effect, the compensation will be determined by the federal Government. There is no appeal process other than to an
assessor who is a judge of the Federal Court. The assessor cannot in effect exceed the limits which are established by the Minister.
I come back to the fundamental principle. The legislation as it is presently worded would in fact permit much of the same abuses that occurred in the 1940s to Canadians of Japanese origin—
—to occur in 1970 in Quebec.
I come back to the fundamental point with respect to compensation. In May, 1984, the Prime Minister said: “I feel very strongly that Canadian citizens whose rights were abused and violated and trampled upon should be compensated”. We have waited three years. How much longer must we wait before the Prime Minister fulfils the solemn undertaking he made to Canadians in 1984?
Mr. Dan Heap (Spadina): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the honour to be able to speak against this emergencies Bill. I believe that if this Bill goes through and becomes law in anything like its present form, Canadians in the future will regret it greatly.
I stand on the side of those who point out that while it is a good thing to repeal the War Measures Act, there are some ways in which this present Bill may even be worse. If there are some ways in which it is better, they are at least closely balanced by ways in which it is worse.
It is true that many people now have very little way of knowing what the War Measures Act was about, except those who were in Quebec at the time of the 1970 crisis or those whose liberties were interfered with in other parts of Canada, on the excuse of the 1970 crisis which was focused on Montreal. Many Canadians at that time were not directly touched by the extraordinary action of the police, and many Canadians now of voting age, of course, do not remember 1970, but it is good to have some recollection of what was done.
I recently had the opportunity to read a study by an academic at the University of York, Mr. Reg Whitaker in the magazine Labour/le Travail, a learned journal. His article is “The Official Repression of Communism During World War II”. He points out that as the war began, and we were fighting a fascist power, the Canadian Government took the occasion to act more strongly against communists than against fascists in Canada on the pretext, of course, that the Soviet Union and Germany had established a non-aggression pact. That did not explain why it was more harsh against communists than against fascists. There were other reasons behind that.
However, even that pretext became rather ridiculous when Germany invaded the Soviet Union and when Britain and the United States found themselves in the position of declaring an alliance with the Soviet Union against Germany, and Canada of course followed suit. Yet, throughout the war and for several years after the war, Canada maintained that the Communist Party of Canada was an illegal Party. Britain and the United States did not do that, but Canada decided to be more repressive than either our mentor Britain or our neighbour the United States.
In fact, as Mr. Whitaker points out, “Canada was the only allied nation to maintain a ban on its local Communist Party throughout the course of its wartime alliance with the U.S.S.R.” That is the kind of silly position we were put into by the then Liberal Government.
This repression of communism did not stop with communists. It was also directed against unions, and not necessarily against unions which had communist officers or leaders. There was, of course, the attempt to destroy the Canadian Seamen’s Union in its infancy, which failed. However, it grew because it had a democratic structure and the support of a great many of the seamen. There were other attempts. For example, Mr. Whitaker records, and it is written elsewhere as well, that:
—Charles Murray, organizer for the Canadian Fishermen and Food Handlers Union of Nova Scotia .. . received a letter from the Nova Scotia Minister of Labour informing him that: “we have stood about all we intend to stand from troublemakers like you—and 1 am warning you now that we will tolerate it no longer. .. Your conduct will from now on be very carefully watched and examined and if I find that you do not quit this sort of business, then it will certainly be the worse for you”.
This is how a Minister of Labour talked to a labour organizer. The article continues:
In fall of 1940, Murray was seized by the RCMP on a Sunday just as he was about to rush his pregnant wife to the hospital. While his wife was left to her devices, Murray was interned for two years.
Mr. Whitaker gives many other examples of how trade unionists were harassed, arrested, charged and sometimes imprisoned or interned, not for any political activity or any anti-war activity but simply for doing what before then and since then has been regarded as the legal work of trade unionists. But it was the War Measures Act to which the Government appealed to do those things.
We certainly need to get rid of the War Measures Act. However, as I have said, this Bill is in some ways worse than the War Measures Act. My reason for saying that is, first, this Bill is much more easily triggered. It has been suggested by the previous Conservative speaker, the Hon. Member for St. Catharines (Mr. Reid), that it is a good thing that it can be used more widely than the War Measures Act. But when one considers the powers given in its wide use, and I will come to that later, it is not at all clear that it is a good thing to use it so widely.
The powers to be given, furthermore, are, in the opinion of many people, including the respected Canadian Civil Liberties Association, dangerously wide. The powers of compensation for error which are a useful and just addition to what the War Measures Act provided or did not provide, do not go far enough to satisfy ordinary Canadian standards of law.
Finally, there is something that is quite surprising, and that is, the gratuitous donation to the Senate of an increase in its power. This was not asked for by those who wanted a repeal of the War Measures Act. In fact, it comes as quite a surprise, given the Prime Minister’s occasional rages against the Senate when it interferes with what he wants to do. To have him give this Christmas present to the Senate is really quite a surprise.
I want to go into the matter of triggering, the circumstances which might trigger the use of the War Measures Act. The problem lies chiefly in the vagueness of the word “emergency” and the fact that the Act fails to define it. We are told that it is there in the preamble and that we therefore should not worry. We are also given good advice by civil liberties experts that defining it in the preamble of the Act does not necessarily protect us because what the Act says is, “When in the opinion of a Governor in Council there is an emergency”. It does not really bind the Government or limit it any further than that. If it says it is an emergency, it is an emergency.
We may well find that the courts will declare that they cannot go behind the decision of the Governor in Council as to what constitutes an emergency. Usually, when the Governor in Council acts in cases like that, they tell the public: “We cannot give you all the facts. There are secret things. If you knew about them, you would agree with us, so just trust us”. We have had enough of this business of “just trust us”. In fact, what this seems to be is a kind of legislating of rule by Order in Council.
The Conservative Party six years ago in this House was very angry at the then Liberal Government for establishing an Order in Council that would provide for government powers in an emergency. The Conservatives said it should be legislated. Now they have legislated, but what they have done is to legislate the power of the Government to do almost anything it wants in the case of war, and not anything it wants but far more than it has to justify, in smaller emergencies.
There ought to be a definition in the law which shows what it is that is happening that goes beyond the ordinary means of the Government to control. We have the criminal law. We have other laws empowering the Government to take action for the public welfare. To suggest that we should have the power to conscript labour for a plague emergency or a flood emergency, really is rather bizarre. Yet that is what we have here. It would give the Government the power to direct any person to perform an essential service. It does not say what is essential. Whatever the Government thinks is essential, apparently would be essential.
We are told to trust the Government because it may bring in some amendments or it may permit some amendments which would remove the danger of this being used simply as a union busting or strike busting tool. However, the attraction for this Government of having a thing put into action without having to debate it in Parliament is very dangerous. The Government would not at all be adverse to deciding that a cessation of services was a cessation of an essential service and, therefore, order people to provide those services. I think that would not only be very damaging where it was applied, but very damaging as a threat to the labour movement of Canada.
What is being urged by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association is that there should be much more limited powers prescribed in the emergencies Bill and that other emergencies should be dealt with by Parliament at the time, that is, by Parliament being requested to adopt a specific piece of legislation. If the Government believes that it cannot wait for Parliament to do that, then it should be obliged, and this Bill should oblige it, to show why it cannot wait. What is it that would require an action by the Government without legislation by Parliament? Why can the Government not handle this socalled emergency by appealing to Parliament? It should be required to do that.
My colleague from Burnaby has spoken about the danger and the folly of using the very vague definition that CSIS gave us in regard to “threat to public order”. Certainly, the conduct of CSIS throughout the course of this year in sending disrupters into unions, and in sending spies into the peace movement makes it very clear that it does not understand well enough the difference between legitimate public criticism and subversion. It spends the public’s money trying to disrupt criticism and at times it appears not to be alert enough to stop a serious matter such as the bombing of an aircraft.
A public order emergency, or for that matter an international emergency, ought to be defined. As the Civil Liberties Association suggests, “the Government could invoke emergency power at the point at which it could reasonably anticipate the outbreak of illegal violence so intense, so widespread and so continuous that the Government itself would be overthrown or be rendered powerless to govern”.
What I am concerned about is that under some of these emergencies the Government takes onto itself not only the power to conscript labour with or without payment but to take away a person’s right to say yes or no to work. I do not believe the Government will conscript doctors or lawyers. It does not do that now. Now it conscripts trade unionists with back-towork laws, even laws that threaten to tell union members that their officers will have to be subject to approval by the Government under certain circumstances.
As has been mentioned, there is also the threat to prohibit public assembly. Public assembly is often regarded as the foundation of liberty in our kind of democracy. Yet the Government is likely willing to take it away. However, the most ridiculous part of this Bill is the concept of an international emergency. I refer to Clause 25 of the Bill. If somebody from the public or if the Government had put forward such a statement in a White Paper, which it was urged to do, it would have been laughed out of court. However, we now have it proposed as law with a straight face. I quote:
“international emergency” means an emergency involving Canada and one or more other countries that arises from acts of intimidation or coercion or the real or imminent use of serious force or violence—
That is pretty wide. If someone thinks that there is a threat of violence then they can invoke this measure. The clause continues, “—and that directly threatens the sovereignty, securityor territorial integrity of Canada—”, There is no problem there. We have to act if Canada is threatened. But the clause goes on:
—or any of its allies or any other country in which the political, economic or security interests of Canada or any of its allies are involved.
I do not think that there is a country in the word in which some ally of Canada does not have economic, political or security interests. This means that at any time that there is a disturbance anywhere in the world the Canadian Government might use this law as the basis for declaring an international emergency. If President Reagan wakes up in the middle of the night tonight and says, “The Sandinistas are going to raid Texas,” he will phone and ask us to declare an emergency. Fortunately, the law has not been passed. At the moment it would not be quite legal to do that. I hope that the Government will not try to do that.
This is what might happen if President Reagan decided that his country’s economic interests were being threatened in the huge nation of Nicaragua, a nation of 2.5 million people. The Government could appropriate, control or forfeit the use and disposition of property or services. It could control or regulate any specified industry or service, including its equipment, facilities and inventory. It could authorize or direct any person or any class of persons to render essential services of a type that that person or person of that class is competent to provide. It could regulate or prohibit travel outside Canada by Canadian citizens or by permanent residents. It could remove from Canada persons other than Canadian citizens or permanent residents. There are about ten more powers that are given.
What I am saying is that it is far too wide in the scope in which it can be used. It is far too wide in the powers that can be used. Unfortunately, there is inadequate legislation to provide for compensation of people who are unjustly harmed by the action of the Bill. It gives the Senate a new power that even the Meech Lake Accord did not give it, or which the Constitution does not give it. It gives the Senate the power under certain circumstances to insist on the continuation of a state of emergency. If there is a debate in the House of Commons on a motion to revoke a state of emergency and if it is passed by the House but defeated by the Senate then the state of emergency will continue. It is very unfortunate that that power should be given to the Senate.
What this provision does is to damage very much the rule of law in Canada. We are told that the Charter of Rights applies, as does the Bill of Rights and so on. But it sometimes takes years to bring a matter before the Supreme Court to seek relief under the Charter of Rights or the Bill of Rights. Therefore, it is not wise, fair or reasonable to give powers to the Government which can only be corrected or may be corrected years after through an action in the Supreme Court. These powers must be restricted much more than they are or else this Bill ought to be defeated.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne): It being five o’clock the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members’ Business as listed on today’s Order Paper.