Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Emergencies Act”, 33rd Parl, 2nd Sess (25 April 1988)
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 33rd Parl, 2nd Sess, 1988 at 14760-14774, 14788-14800.
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).
MEASURE TO ENACT
The House proceeded to the consideration of 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, as reported (with amendments) from a legislative committee.
Mr. Speaker: There are 10 motions on the Order Paper and Notices offered in amendment to 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. Motion No. 1 stands in the name of the Hon. Member for Brant (Mr. Blackburn). Motions Nos. 2 to 10 stand in the name of the Hon. Minister of National Defence (Mr. Beatty).
Amendments somewhat related to Motion No. 1 were moved, debated and negatived in the legislative committee. Motion No. 1, however, refers to persons who are finally determined under the Immigration Act, 1976 to be Convention refugees. The term “Convention refugee” is defined by the Geneva Convention of 1951, which has a different connotation from what was considered in the legislative committee. Therefore, I would rule Motion No. 1 in order. It will be debated and voted on separately.
Motions Nos. 2 and 8 are in order and will be grouped for debate. The vote on Motion No. 2 will apply to Motion No. 8. Motions Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 9 are in order and will be grouped for debate as they deal with the same subject. The vote on Motion No. 3 will apply to Motions Nos. 4, 5, and 9.
Motions Nos. 6, 7 and 10 are in order, and each will be debated and voted on separately.
The House will now proceed to the first motion, Motion No. 1. I will now propose the question to the House.
Mr. Derek Blackburn (Brant) moved:
Motion No. 1
That Bill C-77 be amended in Clause 30 by striking out lines 32 to 35 at page 16 and substituting the following therefor:
“(h) the removal from Canada of persons, other than Canadian citizens, permanent residents as defined in the Immigration Act, 1976 and persons, not being persons described in paragraph 19(l)(c), (e), (f) or (g) of that Act, who are finally determined under that Act to be Convention refugees;”.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I introduced an amendment on this topic at committee as we went through it clause by clause which would have prohibited the Government from forcing back a boatload or shipload of persons seeking refuge in this country during a time of emergency. I felt we had already blemished our record once many years ago in this regard. I think it was 1938 or 1939. When I say we “blemished our record” I mean as a nation. A group of Jews from Europe were desperately seeking refuge in the free world in their attempt to escape the horrors of Naziism. The Government of the day refused to allow that ship to dock in Canada and it was forced to continue on. If memory serves me correctly from reading about that episode, I think most of the persons on board ended up back in Europe.
My original motion would have prevented a Government, even under a proclamation of emergency, from allowing that kind of tragic situation to happen again.
The committee debated the amendment at length and it was lost. Motion No. 1 which I am proposing at report stage today is somewhat of a compromise. I would hope it would meet with the acceptance of members of all Parties assembled here this morning. It does not exclude those seeking refugee status but would include them once they had been determined to be refugees. In other words, once they had landed on Canadian territory and had gone through the determination process, they would be here in this country legally at that point even though still designated as refugees.
I am not an expert on the Immigration Act and I can fully appreciate that had my original proposed amendment been accepted, it would have drastically altered, I would suggest for the better, the immigration provisions existing at the present time with respect to refugees. I readily admit we have what one might call a crisis on our hands with respect to refugees coming into Canada without proper qualifications and identification. We do not know whether they are genuine refugees or not.
Rather than hold up this Bill, because another Bill is finding rough passage through this House, I was reluctantly prepared and with some considerable regret to put forward this compromise with respect to refugees. I commend the motion to the House. I would hope that at report stage this amendment would be accepted by a majority of all Parties and that that would be as far as we could carry the refugee issue in relation to Bill C-77.
Mr. Russell MacLellan (Cape Breton—The Sydneys): Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to Motion No. 1 and say that I agree with the Hon. Member for Brant (Mr. Blackburn) that this would be a definite plus to the Bill as brought forward. As he has stated, it may only be a compromise position but this compromise position would be an improvement on the Bill as presently structured.
I think the Government is trying to deal with immigration concerns in emergency legislation. I do not think that should even be considered by this House of Commons. I think an amendment to this Act is absolutely necessary. It is unfortunate that the original amendment put forward was not adopted, but this compromise amendment is certainly better than leaving the Act the way it is at the present time. I, too, would ask the House to adopt this motion.
Hon. Chas. L. Caccia (Davenport): Mr. Speaker, it seems to me from the two interventions just made by my colleagues on this side of the House that we have here a very important principle at stake, namely of keeping immigration matters and principles standing on their own because of the highly humanitarian nature that immigration policies involve. Examples have already been given to that effect by the Hon. Member for Brant (Mr. Blackburn), reinforced by the Hon. Member for Cape Breton—The Sydneys) (Mr. MacLellan).
As the Hon. Member for Cape Breton—The Sydneys has just indicated, this amendment is a partial solution or compromise. While not perfect in itself, it would at least provide a certain degree of protection in cases of immigration situations that would have to be dealt with on their own merits and not under the over-all umbrella of this specific Bill. It seems to me that we all have a particular duty to perform in convincing the Government of the necessity and desirability of adopting this motion as a measure that attempts at least, within limits of course, to achieve the goal of being able to say: “Look. When it comes to immigration matters, we want potential immigrants treated in a fair and humanitarian manner and not under the general thrust of this specific Bill”.
I hope the Parliamentary Secretary, who is well known for his sensitivity, will have a positive reply. I hope that he will be in a position to accept this particular amendment for the reasons that have been given thus far.
Mr. Bud Bradley (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence): Mr. Speaker, at the outset I would like to thank my colleague, the Hon. Member for Brant (Mr. Blackburn), for this compromise amendment. I should also point out to my colleagues in the House that the Hon. Member was extremely helpful in committee. He worked very hard for the legislation, and thus for Canadians. I believe he moved some 60 amendments, 30 of which were accepted by the committee in one form or another.
The problem with this amendment at the time was the fact that in committee we were referring to bona fide refugees. There was a difficulty in legalese with respect to defining what is a bona fide refugee. The new terminology being proposed by my colleague will ensure that Canada’s treaty obligations under the 1951 UN Convention relating to the status of refugees will be respected even during emergencies.
It also conforms to the Immigration Act of 1976, and the spirit of Bill C-55. It gives people who finally have been determined to be Convention refugees under that legislation protection equal to that granted to Canadian citizens and permanent residents under the Act. The Government has given a great deal of consideration to the amendment moved by my hon. friend. We are in a position at which we can accept it.
Some Hon. Members: Hear, hear!
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): Is the House ready for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Question.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): The question is on Motion No. 1 standing in the name of the Hon. Member for Brant (Mr. Blackburn). Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Motion No. 1 (Mr. Blackburn)(Brant) agreed to.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): Motion No. 2 and Motion No. 8 are in order. They have been grouped for debate. The vote on Motion No. 2 will apply to Motion No. 8.
Mr. Jim Hawkes (for the Minister of National Defence) moved:
Motion No. 2
That Bill C-77 be amended in Clause 52
(a) by striking out lines 35 to 45 at page 25 and substituting the following therefor:
“(b) notwithstanding the maximum amount, if any, of compensation that may be paid to the person appealing, vary the decision of the Minister; or
(c) refer the matter back to the Minister for such further action as the Assessor may direct, including the calculation of compensation without regard to the maximum amount, if any, that may otherwise be paid.”
(b) by striking out lines 8 to 13 at page 26 and substituting the following therefor:
“(4) Where the Assessor varies a decision of the Minister by awarding compensation or increasing the amount of compensation awarded by the Minister or the Minister, on a matter referred back for further action, increases the amount of compensation previously awarded, the Minister shall pay that compensation or increased compensation, as the case may be.”
Motion No. 8
That Bill C-77 be amended in Clause 71
(a) by striking out lines 32 to 42 at page 36 and substituting the following therefor:
“(b) notwithstanding the maximum amount, if any, of compensation that may be paid to the person appealing, vary the decision of the Minister; or
(c) refer the matter back to the Minister for such further action as the Assessor may direct, including the calculation of compensation without regard to the maximum amount, if any, that may otherwise be paid.”
(b) by striking out lines 3 to 8 at page 37 and substituting the following therefor:
(4) Where the Assessor varies a decision of the Minister by awarding compensation or increasing the amount of compensation awarded by the Minister or the Minister, on a matter referred back for further action, increases the amount of compensation previously awarded, the Minister
shall pay that compensation or increased compensation, as the case may be.”
Mr. Bud Bradley (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence): Mr. Speaker, the Government is placing before the House this morning 10 motions to amend Bill C-77. Although it was not our original intent to move motions at report stage, we find ourselves obliged to move these amendments to correct oversights, to clarify ambiguous language in the Bill and, in general, to add greater precision to the Bill. I can assure Hon. Members that none of these motions will change the substance of any clause in the Bill.
There is a requirement because of their wording and because of the areas to which they relate to group them into three separate groups as you have found, Mr. Speaker. However, I hope that with the explanation that I have made being kept in mind that Members will seek to deal expeditiously with all 10 government motions.
Mr. Derek Blackburn (Brant): Mr. Speaker, I intended to get up before the Parliamentary Secretary to inform him through you that these amendments are all acceptable to me. I went through them earlier this morning. In fact, they simply clean up the legal language.
While I am on my feet and on the subject of legal language, I think one of the reasons—and this is purely my own opinion— why the committee was able to work so harmoniously was twofold. First, we had a very excellent Chairman, the Hon. Member for Victoria (Mr. McKinnon). Second, there was not one lawyer on the committee. We got through the matters expeditiously. We all understood what we were talking about. I would like to suggest that we all understand what the Bill is about today, too, as a result of that.
Mr. Don Boudria (Glengarry—Prescott—Russell): Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I want to share in that comment about the legal profession.
I have read the amendments proposed to the Bill. It is our opinion as well on this side of the House that there are no substantive change made to the Bill by the amendments.
I have a question in the area of the translation. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary can explain to us one part of the translation of the Bill.
When we look at Motion No. 2 (b) the English words are, “notwithstanding the maximum amount”. That expression usually translates and means to me, “nonobstant le montant maximal”. I read in the motion, “ou bien, malgré le montant maximal”. I wonder if there could be a different interpretation. Perhaps that is not the case. I bring it to the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary nonetheless. If his officials have indicated that those words that are in the motion as printed in the Order Paper are an accurate translation which will make it clear that both versions mean exactly the same thing, then I am willing to accept that.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): Before I can recognize the Parliamentary Secretary I need to have unanimous consent. Is it agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend for raising this matter. If my memory serves me correctly, and possibly my hon. friend from Brant can confirm this for me, this became part of a discussion in committee. It was decided that these were the words that might best explain matters.
My French is nowhere near as good as my colleague’s, although his English is as good as mine. If he has a concern with that, I would be willing to accept it. The note 1 have just been given, with efficiency, was that both English and French versions are consistent with what they classify now as the good drafting practice for that expression.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): Is the House ready for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Question.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): The question is on Motions Nos. 2 and 8 standing in the name of the Minister of National Defence.
Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the said motions? Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Motions Nos. 2 and 8 (Mr. Beatty) agreed to.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): I would like to bring to the attention of the House that Motions Nos. 3, 4, 5, and 9 standing in the name of the Minister of National Defence will be grouped for debate.
Hon. Doug Lewis (for the Minister of National Defence) moved:
Motion No. 3
That Bill C-77 be amended in Clause 58 by striking out lines 3 to 5 at page 28 and substituting the following therefor:
“(6) A motion taken up and considered in accordance with subsection (5) shall be debated without interruption and, at such time as the House is ready for the question, the Speaker shall forthwith, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary for the disposition of the motion.”
Motion No. 4
That Bill C-77 be amended in Clause 60 by striking out lines 30 to 40 at page 29 and substituting the following therefor:
“(5) A motion taken up and considered in accordance with subsection (4) shall be debated without interruption and, at such time as the House is ready for the question, the Speaker shall forthwith, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary for the disposition of the motion.”
Motion No. 5
That Bill C-77 be amended in Clause 61
(a) by striking out lines 40 to 42 at page 30 and substituting the following therefor:
“(4) A motion taken up and considered in accordance with subsection (3) shall be debated without interruption and, at such time as the House is ready for the question, the Speaker shall forthwith, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary for the disposition of the motion.”
(b) by striking out lines 8 to 10 at page 31 and substituting the following therefor:
“(7) A motion taken up and considered in accordance with subsection (6) shall be debated without interruption and, at such time as the House is ready for the question, the Speaker shall forthwith, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary for the disposition of the motion.”
Motion No. 9
That Bill C-77 be amended in Clause 73
(a) by striking out lines 37 to 39 at page 38 and substituting the following therefor:
“(6) A motion taken up and considered in accordance with subsection (5) shall be debated without interruption and, at such time as the House is ready for the question, the Speaker shall forthwith, without further debate and amendment, put every question necessary for the disposition of the motion.”
(b) by striking out lines 39 to 41 at page 39 and substituting the following therefor:
“(3) A motion taken up and considered in accordance with subsection (2) shall be debated without interruption and, at such time as the House is ready for the question, the Speaker shall forthwith, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary for the disposition of the motion.”
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the said motions?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Motions Nos. 3, 4, 5, and 9 (Mr. Beatty) agreed to.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): The next question is on Motions No. 6, 7, and 10.
Hon. Flora MacDonald (for the Minister of National Defence) moved:
Motion No. 6
That Bill C-77 be amended in Clause 62 by striking out lines 20 to 25 at page 32.
Motion No. 7
That Bill C-77 be amended in Clause 63 by striking out lines 33 to 36 at page 32 and substituting the following therefor:
“(2) A report of an inquiry held pursuant to this section shall be laid before each House of Parliament within three hundred and sixty days after the expiration or revocation of the declaration of emergency.”
Motion No. 10
That Bill C-77 be amended in Clause 73 of the French version by striking out lines 43 to 45 at page 38 and lines 1 to 5 at page 39 and substituting the following therefor:
“37. (1) Dans les cas où le président du Sénat ou de la Chambre des communes est saisi d’une motion signée par au moins dix sénateurs ou vingt députés, selon le cas, demandant l’abrogation d’un décret d’application de l’article 11, cette Chambre étudie cette motion dans le trois jours de séance suivant la saisine.”
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the said motions?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Motions Nos. 6, 7, and 10 (Mr. Beatty) agreed to.
Miss MacDonald (for the Minister of National Defence) moved that Bill C-77, as amended, be concurred in.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Doug Lewis (for the Minister of National Defence) moved that the Bill be read the third time and passed. He said: I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There have been discussions among the House Leaders, and I think you will find that there is unanimous consent to allow the first three speakers equal time. That would give the Official Opposition and the spokesperson for the NDP equal time to the first speaker from the Government and the Official Opposition.
There are also informal discussions continuing which would lead to a division, if required on this matter, being taken on Wednesday at 6 p.m. We would like to take some time and work out an appropriate House order which would accomplish that.
Mr. Angus: Mr. Speaker, I wish to confirm the remarks of the Hon. Member that there have been discussions with regard to equal time at the beginning, and there will be ongoing discussions regarding the House order for a vote, should it be required, on Wednesday of this week.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion? On debate, the Hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence.
Mr. Bud Bradley (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence): Mr. Speaker, last June, the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Beatty), the Minister responsible for emergency preparedness, tabled Bill C-77, the Emergencies Act, which will replace the War Measures Act legislation.
Since 1970, all Parties of the House have been on record as favouring new legislation to replace that archaic and abhorrent act. Nearly 18 years have elapsed since Canadians were promised a more enlightened approach for dealing with safety and security during national emergencies, and I am very gratified indeed to see how close we are now to fulfilling that promise.
It is time to ensure that the abuses of civil liberties committed against Japanese Canadians in World War II, and against Quebecers during the 1970 October crisis, will never happen again. Bill C-77 does this, and more.
I consider the October crisis a blot on our national conscience. As a political device the War Measures Act was tremendously effective. As an instrument for dispensing justice, it was not effective at all. We saw the disgraceful state of affairs where more than 450 Canadians were arrested and detained without charges being laid, and without being allowed to consult a lawyer. Of those people who were taken into custody, 439 were later released without being charged. To quote Ron Haggart and Aubrey Golden from their book Rumours of War.
They had been placed at the worst possible legal disadvantage, denied information on what was alleged against them, denied counsel, interrogated and then “tried” in someone’s office in their absence.
Going back further in our history, the War Measures Act was legitimately invoked in 1939 to permit Canada to play its proper role during the Second World War. There is no doubt that during those six difficult years from 1939 to 1945, the men and women who served in Canada’s Armed Forces, and the Canadians at home whose efforts supported them, brought honour to Canada and contributed in no small way to Canada’s emergence as an independent nation deserving our pride and allegiance.
We must also look back with sadness and regret at one aspect of the use of the War Measures Act in that period. I refer, of course, to the displacement and internment of Canadian citizens of Japanese descent and the confiscation of their property. Without wishing to make judgments about the exigencies and pressures that faced the decision-makers at that time and which led to these measures, Canadians today can only look back on those events with a good deal of national shame. The Minister was determined to ensure that the legislation which replaced the War Measures Act would be abundantly clear on at least this point, that this sort of abuse of executive power could not recur.
The Minister was very aware last summer, when he presented the replacement to the War Measures Act in this House, that because of the past events to which I have just referred the legislation would be seen as much as a civil rights issue as a means for allowing the Government to act swiftly and effectively in national emergencies. We thought we had a well considered piece of legislation, but we also knew that this time we had to be absolutely sure to get it right. After 17 years it was simply too important to the country to do otherwise.
For this reason the Minister invited all Canadians to comment on the draft legislation. The Minister and I have been impressed enormously in the past month with the care and amount of time which individuals and organizations have devoted to examining this important piece of legislation. There is something special about a country whose citizens care so passionately for individual freedom that they will devote hours of thoughtful reflection to a proposed law which may never have to be invoked.
When the Minister spoke during second reading debate, he indicated that the Government had an open mind on the detailed provisions of the Bill and would welcome constructive suggestions aimed at ensuring that when finally passed it would be the best that we could produce by working together.
At this time I would like to express the Government’s sincere appreciation and gratitude to the many witnesses who appeared before the legislative committee and presented briefs which were obviously the product of a good deal of intense thought, research, and study. I would also like to compliment my colleagues in this House of all Party persuasions who worked on the Bill and gave the committee the benefit of their thoughtfully considered views.
The Bill which is the product of the committee’s deliberations, and which we are now proposing for third reading and passage by this House, is similar in appearance to the original Bill and is consistent with the principle of the Bill which we approved at second reading. However, I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that it is very different in detail. It is a much improved Bill. The amendments which the committee developed and approved and which are incorporated in the Bill we now have before us are numerous. I would hesitate to try to count the number of individual changes. They cover some three dozen distinct areas.
A point of note is that my hon. friend, the Member for Brant (Mr. Blackburn), introduced 61 amendments. Forty-eight were either adopted or incorporated in a government amendment. I would like to thank him personally for the work that he has done on this piece of legislation.
All the amendments contributed to better meeting the objective which I stated earlier in debate, that we should produce a Bill which adequately equips the Government of Canada to meet its constitutional responsibilities to provide for the safety and security of Canadians during national emergencies but does so with the minimum encroachment on the rights and freedoms of individual Canadians. The Government must be given the authorities it needs to minimize human suffering during emergencies but the legislation giving these authorities must be carefully crafted to ensure that ordinary governmental powers are exceeded only to the extent that is absolutely necessary in the circumstances. I am impressed by the manner in which the legislative committee was able to adhere to these objectives and produce a vastly improved Bill.
The changes that have been made to the Bill fall into three general categories. First, there are those which add precision to the legal formulation of what the Government is empowered to do and in what circumstances it would be given these additional powers. In this category I would include changes to the definition of “national emergency” and the definitions of the four specific types of national emergency, as well as changes to many of the specific powers granted in each of the four main parts of the Act.
Second are the changes which tighten up and enhance the supervision of the Government’s exercise of the special
authorities granted by the Act, supervisions which would be carried out both by the courts and by Parliament.
Finally, there are several changes which enhance the regime for providing redress to those individuals who, in the confusion and upheaval which inevitably would accompany a national emergency, might have suffered loss or injury as a result of measures taken by the Government in dealing with the emergency.
Without in any way intending to minimize the contributions made by any of the witnesses who appeared before the committee, I would like to single out three important Canadian organizations which gave very serious thought to this Bill and submitted briefs which were clearly the result of pooling the insight and experience of many individuals, people who are genuinely concerned about the impact that this important Bill would have on the future of Canada.
These three organizations are the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Bar Association, and the National Association of Japanese Canadians. A comparison of the recommendations in their briefs with the specific amendments incorporated into the Bill gives clear evidence of the contribution which these three organizations have made.
I would like to review in a little more detail some of the key amendments in each of the three categories to which I referred a moment ago. I referred earlier to the legacy of shame which we share because of the regrettable action taken against Japanese Canadians during World War II. Our legal advisors assured us that with the safeguards we had built into Bill C- 77, coupled with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the complex legal structure which has been put in place to implement the Charter, we could be 99.9 per cent sure that no conceivable situation could arise in which Bill C-77 could be used to empower a future Government to do anything resembling what was done to the Japanese Canadians.
However, I am sure that all Members of this House will agree with me that 99.9 per cent is not good enough. We want to be 100 per cent sure on this point. Hence the Government proposed, and the committee adopted, an amendment which states clearly and unequivocally that Bill C-77 does not empower the Government to make orders or regulations providing for detention, imprisonment, or internment of Canadian citizens or landed immigrants on the basis of race, nationality or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability. When Bill C-77 is passed, Mr. Speaker, we will have removed the last vestige of the legal underpinnings to that regrettable episode of Canadian history.
As correctly pointed out by many of the witnesses who appeared before the committee and by others who have commented on this Bill, the question of definitions is crucial. These have been gone over very carefully and I am confident that the definitions now in the Bill state as accurately and as clearly as can be done the intended scope of the Act in each of its four parts.
The definition of “national emergency” as now formulated captures the four elements common to all the proposals put to the committee. It represents the distilled consensus of the collective wisdom of the highly qualified people whose advice we were fortunate to receive. The four elements incorporated in a new definition of national emergency are; first, the notion of urgency; second, the temporary character of the abnormal situation; third, the inadequacy of the normal legal framework; and finally, the presence of a serious threat, either to the security of the country as a whole, or to public safety in circumstances which exceed provincial capabilities.
To qualify as a national emergency, all four elements must be present. In addition, the situation must meet the more detailed characteristics of one of the four particular types of national emergency as defined in each of Parts I through IV, and only those powers relevant to that class of emergency will be available to the Government. All of the definitions of the four types of emergencies have been tightened up by amendments.
With regard to the particular powers, permit me to enumerate some of the more important changes that have been made to limit more precisely the scope of the powers: Travel restrictions in Part I are now confined to those necessary for the protection of the health and safety of individuals. Use of Part I to terminate a labour dispute is now specifically excluded. Part II powers over public assembly are now confined to assemblies that may be reasonably expected to lead to a breach of the peace. Part III, search and seizure powers, are now confined only to the narrow requirements related to enforcing laws dealing with the defence contracts in order to prevent abuses, such as profiteering. Censorship is now explicitly excluded in Part III powers. All powers of Part I through III are to be exercised in a way that will not unduly impair the ability of a province to deal with a provincial emergency; and the powers of all parts are to be exercised with a view to obtaining the maximum possible concerted action with the provinces.
Let me now turn to a second general category of amendments. Several important changes have been made to enhance the manner in which the Government’s use of the Act will be overseen by the courts and by Parliament. Perhaps the most important of these is the change in wording in about 20 subsections to ensure that judgments made about the necessity for exceptional measures must now be based on “reasonable grounds” rather than the unqualified “opinion” of the Governor in Council. This change means that all important decisions by the Governor in Council relating to the invocation and use of the emergency power will be challengeable in the courts.
I cannot emphasize too strongly how important this new approach is to the assurance of full protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. The continued application of the Charter,
which is also assured by the Bill, coupled with the accountability of the Governor in Council inherent in this new wording, ensures that the fundamental freedoms of Canadians will be preserved as long as the nation, its institutions and its constitution are preserved.
In addition to this very basic change, a number of further amendments have been made to strengthen the parliamentary supervision, including the following: The sunset periods after which the powers will expire, unless renewed by Parliament, have been substantially reduced. All orders and regulations to be continued past the normal sunset period will have to be explicitly reconfirmed by Parliament. One House alone will be able to revoke a declaration of emergency at any time. Parliament will have a longer time to consider whether orders and regulations passed by the Governor in Council should be revoked, and will be able to reconsider any order or regulation at any time.
The all-Party Parliamentary Review Committee, which will be established whenever the Act is invoked, will keep the Government’s use of its extraordinary powers under continuous review and will report to Parliament at least every 60 days. Whenever a declaration expires or is revoked, that is, when the emergency is over, a formal inquiry will be conducted. The number of MPs and Senators required to initiate a motion to revoke either a declaration or a particular order or regulation has been substantially reduced, and the time limits on debate of the motion have been removed. Orders and regulations passed by the Government will have to be tabled with much less delay.
Finally, let me comment briefly on the third category of amendment where the many changes made to the regime for compensation will add significantly to its effectiveness. Amendments include the following: The establishment of the right to reasonable compensation for commandeered services. The provision of reasonable compensation under Part V is now mandatory rather than discretionary. The appeal process in the compensation provisions is now mandatory and will allow the appeal judge to exceed the maximum compensation when to do otherwise would be unreasonable and unfair.
I think it is quite evident from this review of a selection of the amendments made by the legislative committee that it has most effectively and conscientiously acquitted its responsibilities and that Bill C-77 is much the better for its endeavours.
I said earlier that from the beginning we knew that the protection of basic rights in a national emergency would undoubtedly become the focus for public discussion of this Bill. Public discussion has, however, unfortunately led to some misunderstandings about the constitutional and legal protection of fundamental rights and freedoms in our country, both as it applies to normal times and as the protection is further strengthened in time of national emergency by provisions in Bill C-77.
The bulwark is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Bill C-77 goes to considerable length to ensure that the normal mechanisms for applying Charter protections will be upheld. The suggestion made by one of the witnesses that the Government could invoke the “notwithstanding” clause of Section 33 of the Charter, using an Order in Council pursuant to this Act, is completely without foundation. The Charter unequivocably states that to use the notwithstanding clause to override certain Charter rights, Parliament must declare the override expressly in an Act of Parliament. Bill C- 77 contains no such provision. There is no doubt whatsoever that any attempt to use Section 33 through an Order in Council, should any future government be so ill advised as to try it, would be struck down by the courts.
Any limitation to charter rights a government might consider necessary in a national emergency would be challengeable on two counts. First, under Bill C-77 as I indicated earlier, the Governor in Council could be challenged in court to demonstrate that there are reasonable grounds for the necessity of the measure. Second, under Section 1 of the Charter, the Government could be challenged to demonstrate that the limitations were “reasonable and demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society.” It is difficult to imagine, Mr. Speaker, a Government going ahead with measures if there were any doubts about its ability to justify its actions in court.
There are additional protections in the system which have been put in place to ensure that all orders and regulations are consistent with the Charter, whether they are passed in normal times or in an emergency. The Statutory Instruments Act, the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Department of Justice Act have been amended, and I might point out that these amendments were made by the current Parliament to place special responsibilities on the Minister of Justice to examine every regulation and every Bill in order to ascertain whether there are any inconsistencies with the Charter and to report such inconsistency to the House of Commons at the earliest opportunity. These responsibilities of the Minister of Justice are, in a sense, separate from his role as a member of Cabinet and confer on him a quasi-judicial role for which he is responsible directly to Parliament.
To carry out this responsibility the Minister, of course, relies on the highly qualified support of the law officers of the Crown. To suggest that a Government might attempt, for some obscure motives of expediency, to pass regulations which were knowingly inconsistent with the Charter, is to impugn the integrity not only of a Minister of the Crown but also of a major and extremely important branch of the Public Service. The emergence of such an eventuality is beyond belief, Mr. Speaker.
Much has been made of mention in this Bill of the possibility of secret orders or regulations. No one has questioned that in very rare and unusual circumstances there may possibly be a need for secrecy to protect the purpose of the action being taken. However, Bill C-77 is not the source of the authority to make secret orders or regulations. This authority stems from
the Statutory Instruments Act and is also available in normal times.
There is nothing in Bill C-77 which extends or alters in any way the restrictions on the use of secret orders inherent in the Statutory Instruments Act and its associated regulations. Quite the contrary. What Bill C-77 does do, Mr. Speaker, is to introduce a means of opening up such matters to scrutiny by Parliament, not only by requiring that all secret orders be referred to a parliamentary committee, but also by empowering that committee to revoke or amend such orders. Thus, Bill C-77 provides additional protection, not less, against abuse of secret orders in a national emergency.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a word about the confusion that has arisen concerning the requirement for warrants for search and seizure.
Protection against unreasonable search or seizure is a Charter right, and this has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to imply that a warrant is always required except in administrative inspections or in certain exigent circumstances where there is a physical impossibility of obtaining a warrant in time and where not to act would unreasonably thwart the administration of justice.
Any Act of Parliament that provided for a warrantless search or seizure would thus be inconsistent with the Charter, and of course Bill C-77 does not include any such provision.
The way in which the members of the legislative committee, those who made representations before it, and individual Canadians in general have responded to this legislation in terms of suggestions for amendment and fine tuning, has been most impressive. We have tried to accommodate all points of view as best we could.
Some things are above politics, Mr. Speaker. I think Bill C- 77 falls into that category. All Canadians, wherever they live, whatever their political affiliation, whatever their occupation, have a vested interest in suitable emergency powers legislation, legislation that can meet, swiftly and effectively, any national emergency that may confront us.
We have seen some old wounds reopened in recent weeks. The publication of Mr. Jamieson’s diary, with its allegations of political expediency, along with the public representations of the National Association of Japanese Canadians remind us of the horrors of the events of October 1970 and the early 1940s.
Those events are now behind us. Let us not waste more time by engaging in unfruitful accusations. The important thing now is to get on with it, and to see that such events cannot recur.
The Bill the Minister is recommending today for third reading represents the culmination of a considerable effort on the part of Canadian men and women to try to accommodate, first and foremost, the rights of their fellow citizens, while giving Government the tools it needs to ensure the safety and security of our citizenry in a national crisis.
I trust, Mr. Speaker, that the other place will view Bill C-77 as an honest attempt on the part of those of us who have the privilege of serving Canadians in Parliament to achieve that end and thus worthy of both their careful consideration and expeditious treatment.
Mr. Derek Blackburn (Brant): Mr. Speaker, I, too, am happy to participate in the debate on the motion for the third reading of Bill C-77.1 am proud to say—and I think I say this on behalf of all members of the committee—that we have, at this stage, a much better Bill than that which was introduced for first reading in the House. Bill C-77, in its final form, is a Bill that is certainly acceptable to the majority of Canadians.
Parliament does work, and this is one very good example of how we can make this place work. I would hope that this can be duplicated many times over with respect to other Bills.
Looking at the history of Bill C-77, Mr. Speaker, I note that it was introduced by the Government with great fanfare last June. The Minister expected all Canadians to be grateful that we were finally moving to replace the dreaded and Draconian War Measures Act—and there was some initial support for that concept.
My own criticisms, voiced at the press conference held at the time that the proposed Emergencies Act was introduced, were extremely limited. I had not had time to go through the Bill in any detail, but I did have, even at that time, some very grave misgivings as to what was contained in it as introduced for first reading.
I think it is also fair to say, Mr. Speaker, that the Government was surprised at the strength of the criticism the Bill as originally introduced attracted. Those who took the time to read the proposed Emergencies Act were shocked. They were startled to find that a Bill to replace the War Measures Act would contain so many threats to civil liberties, and in that sense it seemed inconsistent. Criticism rained down from lawyers, from civil libertarians, and from ethnic organizations— the very groups that the Government had hoped to please.
But, to its credit, the Government, and the Minister, did not go on the defensive. The Minister adopted, instead, a flexible attitude. He showed that he was not afraid to lose face—and I am convinced that he did not, in any event. He demonstrated that he had an open mind. We managed to avoid an ugly confrontation, the reason being that so much outside advice was taken to heart. This was wise, in our view. The Government was sailing in uncharted waters in the context of the proposed Emergencies Act. We had no pattern or blueprint to guide us. We were not amending the War Measures Act; we were starting from scratch.
The most important changes made, in my view, were those made to the opening clauses of the Bill. The definition of
“emergency” was changed substantially, thanks largely to the unrelenting pressure from Canadians concerned about civil liberties. There are several requirements that a situation must meet before emergency powers can be used. The situation must be urgent, critical and temporary. It must endanger the lives, health and safety of Canadians, and it must exceed the capacity of any province to deal with the matter.
Alternatively, the emergency must threaten the Government’s ability to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of this country. And there is one final hurdle that must be cleared—and I think this is a very important one: emergency powers can only be used when the situation is so drastic that no other law of Canada can deal with the situation.
At the time of the introduction of the War Measures Act of 1970, it was strongly argued by the opponents of the proclamation of that Act that the Criminal Code could have handled that emergency in the City of Montreal, and elsewhere. But, the Government of the day chose to bring forward the Draconian War Measures Act, instead of using the Criminal Code, as many of us thought it should have done.
Looking back at that situation, the Government of the day would have had to have used the Criminal Code, because it was applicable at that time. These conditions should prevent any future Government from invoking emergency powers irresponsibly, on flimsy excuses.
The Cabinet, under Bill C-77, would be prohibited from giving itself new powers by Order in Council. The Act cannot be changed by Cabinet. This means that no Government could give itself the power to override the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Constitution. That opinion came to the committee from law officers of the Crown, who were giving us their professional advice and interpretation.
We have ensured that Parliament will have greater oversight powers during an emergency. Cabinet must report to Parliament more frequently and ask permission to continue emergency measures, and the maximum time allowed for emergency powers has been reduced to 120 days—and that is in time of war. So, the maximum time allowable is 120 days, and that for the most critical kind of emergency, that which is set out under Part IV, or an emergency involving Canada at war.
When Parliament debates whether to grant or extend a period of emergency, a full debate is now guaranteed. All references to time allocation have been removed from this Bill. Parliament also can now initiate a debate to revoke emergency powers much more easily. Now only 20 MPs or 10 Senators can force a debate. That debate can no longer be delayed, it must happen within three days. It will be a full debate, allowing all to be heard. We have doubled the length of debate to 10 hours. Neither can the Government avoid the verdict of Parliament. There will be no filibuster to extend emergency powers. A vote is mandatory after those 10 hours of debate.
A similar debate is guaranteed when Members want to challenge an unjust order or regulation. We have also removed any time limit on challenges. There is no longer a limited window of opportunity when MPs would have to decide whether or not to challenge an order. They can do so whenever an injustice or abuse takes place.
Parliament will also get the information necessary to take corrective action quickly. Orders and regulations must be tabled in the House or sent to a parliamentary review committee within two days of their passage by Cabinet. We have also placed more restrictions on the type of orders and regulations that Cabinet can make. For example, travel restrictions can be placed on Canadians only during a public welfare emergency to protect health and safety. Public assembly could only be restricted during a public order emergency if the Government could show reasonable grounds to believe that it would lead to violence. Even there, at the height of an emergency, I anticipate that in most circumstances, unlike under the War Measures Act, Canadian citizens living in Canada will be able to assemble to discuss that specific proclamation and that emergency, provided in the view of the law enforcement agencies that assembly will not by its nature result in violence.
Persons who might be conscripted to provide an essential service during an emergency can no longer be sued for any action committed under orders from the Government. The Government has to provide reasonable compensation to any conscriptee. If that conscriptee is unhappy with the compensation, he or she now has the right to appeal. We have made the appeal process mandatory, “We” meaning the committee. The same rights have been extended to people who might suffer material damage from government action during an emergency. They can also get compensation and appeal any award. No one can be exempted from seeking compensation. That provision of the Bill has been deleted. The Minister cannot be arbitrary or capricious in setting some artificial maximum compensation. He can be overruled by a Federal Court judge acting as an accessor.
Finally, Canadians will not be kept in the dark after the emergency is over. There will be no repeat of the deafening and shameful silence that followed the October, 1970, crisis. An inquiry must be held and its findings made public within 360 days. Any Government that abuses the emergency powers will certainly be made to pay the political price.
I think it is shameful that the people of Canada are still waiting for the official report on all aspects of the proclamation of the War Measures Act in October, 1970. That is almost 18 years ago. Books and articles have been written on it and diaries exposed after death, but we have never really had a comprehensive report. There are still people, particularly in the City of Montreal and the Province of Quebec, very upset that no official report has been provided to the public.
That list of amendments is by no means exhaustive. The Government has already listed others and it would take up too much of the time of the House to hear all the amendments
made since the Act was first introduced. In fact, the Bill is barely recognizable. The Speaker has been quite generous in allowing this Bill to proceed in such a different form. However, it is precisely because this Bill has changed so much that I will be recommending its support at third reading to my caucus later this week.
I do not wish to take credit for all the changes we have made. I am no lawyer and I am certainly not an expert in emergency situations. This was a collective effort. I would like to pay tribute to those organizations and individuals who provided us with their expert advice. The forceful representations of the National Association of Japanese Canadians, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Ukrainian Canadian Committee, the Law Union of Ontario, La Ligue des Droits et Libertés, Professors Maxwell Cohen and Peter Rosenthal, various provincial Governments, police forces and others deserve the thanks of this House, the committee, indeed of all Canadians.
I cannot say that all their concerns were satisfied. Neither were mine. However, they can take pride in the changes that are rooted in their contribution.
No Act of course is perfect coming from this Chamber because, as I have said on many occasions and I keep reminding myself, no one in this Chamber is perfect anyway—with some possibly notable exceptions—but nonetheless it is important to draw to the attention of my colleagues and people outside the Chamber that we really have done our co-operative best in producing what is I think a very good Bill to cope with emergencies.
In fairness, I think I should also mention some measures that might still be taken. In particular, the National Association of Japanese Canadians would like to see this Act referred to the Supreme Court. They would like a ruling that clearly states that no Charter overrides are possible under the powers of this Bill. I support that idea. We have the consensus of the executive, through Cabinet, and will soon have the approval of the legislature when this Bill passes third reading and the Senate. Why not get approval from the judiciary as well, here and now or within a reasonable period of time when the Bill is fresh in our minds and the Act becomes law? If we have done our work properly, there is nothing to fear. A Supreme Court ruling would provide a crowning touch, giving Canadians that final assurance that their rights and freedoms are secure, even in the most trying of times.
For my part, I would have liked to have seen some protection for refugees under Clause 28(g). We were discussing that earlier this morning at report stage amendments. I understand the Government’s arguments about throwing open the immigration processes, but I want to avoid any chance of a repetition of that shameful incident of the 1930s when a boatload of Jews was turned away from our shores to face the concentration camps in Europe. It could be any other kind of people today given the conflict-ridden world in which we live. However, I think we should always keep in mind, and I do not want to open up the Immigration Act in this debate, the relationship between the word “refuge” and “refugee”. A refugee is a person, a human being.
We may or may not have prejudices against certain groups in the world, certain races. Being human, these things unfortunately do happen. Fortunately, they are usually only temporary. However, if we keep our minds set on the understanding and meaning of the word “refuge”, I would like to think that this country of ours is still big enough, still magnanimous enough and still has a big enough heart that we can say to the world’s beleaguered peoples: Yes, we are still a refuge for you. They can come here to live in peace, to work and develop, provided that basic laws are upheld and the administrative process works. I must admit that these are very important considerations that other Members in other committees are currently addressing with other Bills.
I would have liked to see the kind of amendment to Clause 28(h) applied here as well with respect to refugees, but I can appreciate the problems that this would have caused with respect to the process of another piece of legislation dealing with refugees that will soon be back before the House. I accept the fact that my arguments failed to sway the other members in the committee’s clause-by-clause discussion. Perhaps some time in the future another government and another minister may want to look at that situation again.
While I am speaking of disappointments, I have something else to say. I have mentioned those who have helped. Let me also point out that others have not. I am referring to the Liberal Party. This is not meant as a partisan cheap shot, and my colleague from Sudbury knows that I bear him no personal animosity, but he also knows that he is the third spokesman that his Party has had on this issue. None of them attended the legislative committee with any consistency. They proposed no amendments. That is very disappointing because, after all, it was a Liberal Government that last imposed the War Measures Act. His Leader was Minister of Justice at that time. That government’s actions have never really been explained and a promise to replace the War Measures Act was never honoured. I hope that this legislation is not discovered to be faulty because of some oversight that might have been avoided with the help of Members of the Liberal Party.
I am also somewhat disappointed that a law of such importance got such little attention in the national press. We are dealing with the sovereignty, safety and security of our country. This Bill deals with safeguards that will protect lives, liberties, rights and freedoms of Canadians from arbitrary Government action. Yet because this debate was not as acrimonious as Question Period usually is, few people know anything about it.
The vast majority of Canadians do not know how important this work has been. It may sound strange to say, but I hope
they never will. I hope that no disaster, either natural or caused by man’s weaknesses, follies or foibles, ever befalls this country and causes this law to be used. I hope that no one has to discover that the Government no longer has the arbitrary powers of the War Measures Act. But I do hope that all who have been involved in writing this legislation will take quiet satisfaction in their work. I think Canada is a better place with this Bill on the books and the War Measures Act relegated to the pages of history texts.
It was a pleasure working in the committee with my colleagues in the House. It was a pleasure listening to the briefs and it was refreshing to see a representative of a Government that has an overwhelming majority in the House accede to the wishes of many witnesses and, indeed, to Opposition Members like myself at committee stage.
I agree with the Hon. Parliamentary Secretary, who was also most co-operative, that this is a Bill of which we can all be justly proud.
Mr. Russell MacLellan (Cape Breton—The Sydneys): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to a Bill of such great importance not only to our country and our citizens, but to our very way of life. Legislation such as this not only reflects the will of the Government and Parliament, but the attitudes of the people of that particular country. Not only does this Parliament wish to send such a message to other countries, we want to send it to our citizens so they may realize that not only are they protected during a time of crisis, they also have rights. The rights of Canadians are paramount.
It has been suggested that this legislation improves upon the War Measures Act, which certainly needed to be addressed. This legislation, as it is presently amended in the House of Commons, is a vast improvement over the Bill that was introduced by the Government some months ago. It is a credit to the Government and all Members of Parliament that they realized the Government had undertaken measures that even it did not quite understand.
During the debate on this legislation, there has been much criticism of the War Measures Act. Although that law has been roundly denounced, it has only been implemented three times: during the First World War, the Second World War, and the October crisis.
When one considers that the War Measures Act has been implemented on only three occasions, I am concerned that Bill C-77, the emergencies legislation, can be implemented far too often. While the number of cases in which it can be implemented have been reduced even further as a result of amendments, my Party still believes that there are occasions when this legislation can be used needlessly. We also believe that further improvements could be made to this legislation, including the provision dealing with wars which suggests that Canada does not have to be involved in such a war. It only states that this war has to be so serious as to be a national emergency. This is a very grey area that should be addressed.
The Parliamentary Secretary and the Member for Brant (Mr. Blackburn) also talked about assemblies, which are now permitted as long as they do not lead to a breach of the peace. That remains as a very grey area because the right of assembly is of paramount importance in this country. There must be nothing in the legislation that is so vague as to prevent people not only from having the right of assembly but knowing when it can occur. Witnesses who appeared before the committee also raised some of these important points. I think these have been very important, indeed.
I would like to mention one group which appeared, the Canadian Association of Japanese Canadians. To reiterate the injustice that was done to Japanese Canadians during the Second World War should not be considered repetitious. This is the sort of thing we must continue to talk about. To not rethink this injustice will dim our memories, giving us further inclination to allow something like this to happen again. It was a travesty, a black mark on our history. I am pleased to see the Government has made mention of it because that would indicate to me that it was in the Government’s thinking as it continued to work on this Bill.
I believe it is also important at this time to mention the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which were brought forward just a little over six years ago. The Charter is absolutely fundamental to the success of a Bill such as this emergency legislation. It is now in the Constitution that Canadians have specified rights. It is in our Constitution that Canadians cannot be taken advantage of. It is in our Constitution that Canadians can rely on those rights and freedoms regardless of the expediency of Governments emergency situations.
The Parliamentary Secretary mentioned that Governments will not take advantage of expediency in cases of national emergency or other emergencies specified under this legislation. He said his Party would not do it. A short while after, he proceeded to bring up the case of the diaries of the former Secretary of State for External Affairs, the Hon. Don Jamieson. The Government could not resist bringing that up for no reason at all, using an expediency within the same speech. How is it going to be relied upon to resist expediencies in time of national crisis? It cannot be relied upon and that is a very serious situation. However, it is minimized somewhat because we do have, thanks to the former Liberal Government, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which underlies and, to a great extent, gives some kind of security in spite of what this Government may consider expedient at any particular time.
I was particularly dismayed at the expediency taken by the Hon. Member for Brant who himself has played a large role in the amendments brought forward. He himself could not resist the temptation to take a dig at the Hon. Member for Sudbury (Mr. Frith) who, unfortunately, was not able to be present at some of the meetings. I think that certainly minimizes the role of the Hon. Member’s Party when it feels that in order to build up its particular role it has to take aim at certain Members of
Parliament. Certainly, the Hon. Member for Sudbury is very concerned about this legislation and vitally interested in the rights of all Canadians.
I think it is important that we in Parliament make a very definite commitment to the rights of Canadians. It is not something we can do just once. All of our legislation must continually show this. It is a fundamental underpinning of our whole society. The witnesses that came before the committee were not merely stating an opinion as Canadians. They were stating an experience, a belief and an education about these very important subjects. If we qualify our beliefs with respect to the rights of Canadians, we are very likely to qualify our rights on other issues as well. If we qualify our beliefs and say that a certain right can be violated in a state of emergency, regardless of the seriousness of the emergency, we are gradually starting the process of the abolition of the rights of Canadians in all aspects of our Canadian way of life.
It is important to look at this issue from an aspect of the safety and security of Canadians in times of emergency. We cannot discount that. We must also look at it within the framework of the rights of all Canadians. We must not in any sense of the word try to chip away at these rights in anticipation of solving a situation regardless of how important. By chipping away at these rights, even if we are solving a situation, we are creating a greater problem, that is eroding the rights and principles on which this country is built.
The Liberal Party supports the legislation. Granted, there are things we would like to see changed. It is not a perfect Bill, in our opinion, but it is a Bill which has been much improved. As such we give it our support. We appreciate the concerns of a lot of witnesses who appeared before the committee. These concerns are definitely concerns which, in many cases, should have been given greater consideration.
I do feel it is important that this Parliament not rely on the Supreme Court of Canada to draft our legislation. If we as parliamentarians do not have the knowledge and belief of what is right for this country, then we should turn over the whole function of law making to the Supreme Court of Canada. Parliament has a role and its role is to make the laws. The role of the Supreme Court of Canada is to interpret those laws. If we cannot believe in the laws we make, particularly in areas of such tremendous importance as emergency legislation, if we are hesitant about what we are doing, then we have no right to be here.
This is an improved Bill, although it is not perfect by any means. It falls short in many ways. But it is a Bill that has been improved. We in the Liberal Party feel this legislation will be constantly reviewed through the sunset provisions and that will mean that we will constantly examine and never lose sight of the rights of all Canadians.
Mr. Marc Ferland (Portneuf): Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Beatty), observed recently, it is not up to us to rewrite history or to delete with one stroke of the pen the story of the darkest days this country ever experienced. However, it is in our power to turn the page and write a new chapter, and we can have that satisfaction today, by adopting the third reading stage of the proposed Emergencies Act.
We, my Quebec colleagues and in fact all Members of this House, have cast a little further behind us our memories of the War Measures Act, memories that still persist in the minds of so many of our fellow citizens. When former Minister Don Jamieson’s memoirs were published, it was clear from the considerable emotion they aroused that the wounds of October 1970 have not completely healed.
As a Member from Quebec and sitting on the Legislative Committee responsible for examining the Emergencies Bill, I was able to measure the depth of the suffering and fear of those who came to testify against the War Measures Act. Through the various arguments and points made by each group, the same message persisted: Never again! While listening to both the protests and the hope in the voices of these men and women, I saw in my mind other faces and the suffering and indignation they expressed.
Of course, as a Government we are proud we were able to keep a major commitment to national security and to safeguarding the individual rights of Canadians in an emergency. However, I must acknowledge the work that has been done by all Members of this House, and I give praise where praise is due. I believe this House has realized that the interests of our fellow citizens are more important than ideological differences or personal rivalry.
When the Emergencies Bill, Bill C-77, was tabled, the Members of this House, as did legal experts, the media and the general public, recognized the fact that the proposed legislation had nothing in common with the War Measures Act. In fact, everyone agreed that the latter legislation should be repealed.
Bill C-77 provides unprecedented guarantees. The Emergencies Act, which will ensure a coherent and graduated response during national emergencies, will be subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights, and it will be consistent with the 1967 United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It will be governed by mechanisms designed to prevent abuse, and its application will be subject to very strict control by Parliament. Furthermore, it will provide for compensation in the event of personal loss, injury or damage.
Despite this undeniable progress, certain concerns were expressed about the definition of the powers the Government could be given in an emergency, the existence of effective
control over the Government’s actions and the compensation of the victims.
The Government did not reject this criticism but carefully examined the various points. The Minister responsible for civil defence made it clear that he deliberately tabled the Bill early last summer to give as much time as possible to those who wished to make suggestions for improvements. Very much aware of the implications of this Bill and its impact on Canadians generally, the Government felt that passage of the Bill should be based on a broad consensus.
Provincial governments, including the Government of Quebec, legal experts, civil liberties activists and representatives of Canada’s various ethnic groups responded with an interest and enthusiasm we found most impressive.
As the minister responsible for emergency preparedness, the Minister of National Defence, said recently, there were many suggestions, “sometimes contradictory, but mostly constructive. Expressed as amendments, these suggestions were meant to provide a better balance in the difficult reconciliation of the exercise of a necessary power and the no less necessary protection of rights.”
The text presented to us today goes far beyond the semantic or terminological changes made to it. By clarifying some concepts, it safeguards in emergency situations the freedom we have won.
With the Emergency Measures Act, the Government will be able to handle disasters and peace-time emergencies with the desired moderation. It will be able to react in a deliberate manner to situations of international tension. It will allow the Government to meet its obligation to ensure the security of its citizens in crisis situations; this obligation is rooted in the Constitution and in history.
“Never again!” Japanese Canadians told us. The Government listened to them. The War Measures Act will be repealed and the Emergencies Act will contain guarantees making a recurrence of the persecution they suffered impossible.
The National Association of Japanese Canadians made many recommendations, and they were followed. The amendments adopted by the Government are along the lines desired by this association. Further guarantees have even been added.
Thus, the Bill explicitly excludes detention, imprisonment or internment of Canadian citizens or landed immigrants for reasons of race, nationality or ethnic origin or other discriminatory reasons.
The types of situations that would justify granting emergency powers were more clearly described and defined. Reasonable compensation for loss, injury or damage will be specified in a comminatory rather that discretionary way. The section allowing for the exclusion of some groups of people was removed. All orders and regulations issued under the emergencies legislation must be directly related to resolving the crisis. Furthermore, the Government may be required to justify its reasons for such orders and regulations before the courts.
Orders and regulations will be subject to review by a Parliamentary Review Committee, consisting of Members of the various parties and acting independently from Cabinet. The Committee will be required to report regularly to Parliament on the way the Government is handling the emergency. All orders and regulations shall be tabled within two days; time limits on debate on a motion for confirmation of a declaration of emergency, for confirmation of a proclamation continuing a declaration of emergency or for the revocation of an order or regulation, have been removed.
Limits on moving a motion for revocation or amendment of an order or regulation have been removed. An inquiry following an emergency must be completed within one year.
Never again, Mr. Speaker! No more Black October in Quebec! The very structure of Bill C-77, in which the part dealing with insurrection in peace time has been separated from provisions applying in time of war, makes this impossible. This is only one of a series of guarantees that provide safeguards against abuse.
Mr. Speaker, some venues are particularly inspiring. Today, we are keenly aware of the people of this country who elected us, and of the presence in these precincts of senior Members of all parties to whom the War Mesures Act was a thorn in the conscience of honest citizens.
Mr. Speaker, I am a junior Member of Parliament, but I must say that I was very proud to work with Members of all parties on this Bill. As so many Quebecers, I experienced the events of October 1970. In Quebec, there was general astonishment that these measures were applied. We, who were there, did not have the impression of any real danger. However, the Government at the time decided to use this reactionary piece of legislation.
An Hon. Member: At the request of the Government of Quebec!
Mr. Ferland: Legislation which, I feel, did not respond to what was needed at the time. This Bill, however, will respect the individual and respect our freedom but will also allow the Government to provide for the security of all Canadians. I think that is a step in the right direction. I think that Canada and this Parliament could only be praised for voting in favour of this legislation. I hope, Mr. Speaker, that Members will vote unanimously in favour of this Bill. That would be an example for all nations on this planet. Canada could once again show that it leads the way in passing laws that protect its citizens and at the same time let them express their views instead of being rebuffed as this happened in the past.
Heaven knows the Japanese suffered when their basic rights were violated. This legislation will prevent such abominations from happening again.
This Bill will enable the police in this country to play their proper role. I remember the testimony of various representatives of police corps in Canada who appeared before the Committee and told us: This Bill will really let us do the work we are paid to do. All the groups we met, including civil rights groups, believe this is a good Bill and that it provides the kind of legislation we expect as citizens of a free country like Canada.
However, I was somewhat disappointed in the lack of participation by my Liberal colleagues. I would have liked to see them take a more active part, as did my colleagues of the New Democratic Party and the Conservative Party, in drafting this Bill. This is a non-partisan Bill. This is a Bill that really meets Canadians’ expectations. I was quite disappointed with the Liberals’ participation in this Bill.
My party still proposed 35 amendments to this Bill, which were adopted. The NDP proposed 61, and 48 were associated with our amendments, and we agreed to make a Bill that really satisfied the expectations of all the interested parties we met.
We heard 22 witnesses and 15 Hon. Members took part on the legislative committee. It is a great credit to all those people who gave a great deal of time to analyse and study a difficult piece of legislation. It is not easy to pass a Bill that is meant to protect people but that limits some freedoms in times of crisis.
But for the first time, we have an Emergency Measures Bill for periods of crisis where the citizen who feels his rights have been violated can appeal, seek compensation and submit the decisions rendered to a review committee. Canadians will even be able to take the Government to court if that they think their rights have been violated or that the Government has abused its powers. I do not know so many countries on earth that have such a broad piece of legislation that protects so many citizens as the one tabled in the House for third reading today. I hope that it will be passed quickly, because Quebecers and Japanese Canadians whose rights were violated expect it, as do all those Canadians, men and women, who were wronged by the former War Measures Act.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for letting me speak today and tell Canadians that I am proud that this Bill was tabled today for third reading. This Bill in fact reflects Canada and the fairness that this Parliament, this government, really want to show to all Canadian citizens in this country.
Mr. John R. Rodriguez (Nickel Belt): Mr. Speaker, I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate, in particular, the Hon. Member for Brant (Mr. Blackburn) who certainly performed heroics in getting some 41 amendments to Bill C-77, the Emergencies Act. I wish to say to the Hon. Member, through you, Mr. Speaker, that the people of Canada owe a debt to his insight and persistence in participating in this, and to those members on the committee from the government side who participated in rolling up their sleeves and tackling an issue that has been a most controversial one in modern Canadian history.
I was not an elected Member of the House at the time, but I certainly was a candidate in the wings. I remember when the New Democratic Party stood up and voted against the imposition of the War Measures Act. You could not give New Democrats away around this country, Mr. Speaker. There was this great upswell that the then Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, represented everything that was right in the Canadian psyche, that he was acting with the best interests of Canada at heart, that he was acting with a considerable amount of insight and depth about the FLQ problem in Quebec. There was this upswing and support within the communities, and within my community, that somehow or another the New Democrats were less than patriotic in their opposition to something that was so obviously correct, the imposition of the War Measures Act. We opposed the imposition of the War Measures Act.
Mr. Caccia: You approved it on first reading.
Mr. Rodriguez: There were 16 members of this caucus who stood up and voted against the imposition of the War Measures Act. I remember receiving many phone calls from people who felt that the New Democrats were not patriotic in doing that. I recall at that time our Leader, Tommy Douglas, put forward the argument that I regurgitated to our supporters in the area, that he had met with the Prime Minister and there was no information the Prime Minister gave him that would lead him to be convinced that other Acts could not have been used, for example, the Criminal Code. Mr. Douglas was not persuaded that there was a situation of apprehended insurrection. As history has unfolded, history has absolved the New Democrats and the position that they took at that time.
Mr. Caccia: With the benefit of hindsight. How about Pierre Laporte?
Mr. Rodriguez: In fact, even after the imposition of the War Measures Act, and now we come to 1988 and we finally have a Bill that goes a long way to correcting what was essentially a very Lucy-goosey kind of law at that time. For example, it does not state that there are not certain emergencies where the Government needs the power to do certain things. This Bill clearly defines what that national emergency is. In defining that, it clearly points out in Clause 3 that the Government must go through all the laws of the land, and the various codes to ensure that what it has to do cannot be done under those particular codes. It is only after the Government has gone through that process that it can then declare an emergency. It is only then that the Government can take steps under this Emergencies Act.
It seems to me that we all remember Pierre Trudeau as some great proponent of human rights.
Mr. Caccia: He was.
Mr. Rodriguez: Even after implementing this, he never took seriously the need to reform that emergency Act.
Mr. Caccia: Look at the Charter. He brought in the Charter.
An Hon. Member: Order.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): Before I call it one o’clock, the Hon. Member will have 15 minutes, plus 10 minutes for questions and comments.
The Hon. Member for Cape Breton—The Sydneys on a point of order.
Mr. MacLellan: Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Rodriguez) seems to be getting away with a lot of innuendoes. He made an inference that former Prime Minister Trudeau let everyone believe that he was seriously interested and seriously concerned. I want to know from the Hon. Member for Nickel Belt if he really doubts the sincere concern that Mr. Trudeau had at that time.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): The Hon. Member may wish to put that question during questions and comments.
It being 1 p.m., I do now leave the chair until 2 p.m. this day.
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 third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker: I should advise the House that when the House rose at 1 p.m., the Hon. Member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Rodriguez) had the floor. I now recognize the Hon. Member for Thunder Bay—Atikokan (Mr. Angus) on a point of order.
Mr. Angus: Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among representatives of all Parties, and I believe you will find unanimous consent to allow the Member for Spadina (Mr. Heap) to complete the time allocated to the Member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Rodriguez).
Mr. Speaker: The House has heard the proposition of the
Hon. Member. Is there agreement?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Mr. Speaker: The Hon. Minister of State (Mr. Lewis) on a point of order.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among representatives of all Parties, and I think you will find consent for the following motion to go forward immediately:
That, when the debate on the motion for third reading of 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, has been concluded, the said debate shall stand adjourned until 6:00 o’clock p.m., Wednesday, April 27, 1988, at which time, Mr. Speaker shall put every question necessary to dispose of the third reading stage of the Bill.
Mr. Speaker: Before proceeding with debate, I shall hear the Hon. Member for Ottawa—Vanier (Mr. Gauthier).
Mr. Gauthier: On a point of clarification, I take it the Government is also agreeing that it will not invoke Standing Order 9(4)(a) at any stage in this debate.
Mr. Speaker: The Hon. Minister, in reply.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, there has been excellent cooperation on the part of all Parties on Bill C-77, with the result that we see no necessity of going that route on this particular Bill.
Mr. Speaker: The Hon. Member for Thunder Bay—Atikokan (Mr. Angus).
Mr. Angus: Mr. Speaker, I just wish to confirm our support for the motion. We think it is an appropriate way of dealing with this matter.
Mr. Speaker: The House has heard the motion. Is there agreement?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Mr. Speaker: The House has heard the suggestion that the Hon. Member for Spadina (Mr. Heap) be now heard in debate. Is there agreement?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Mr. Speaker: The Hon. Member for Spadina (Mr. Heap) on debate.
Mr. Dan Heap (Spadina): Mr. Speaker, at the outset I wish to thank Hon. Members for accommodating me as I have a plane to catch later in the afternoon. I regard Bill C-77 as an
important piece of legislation, and as such I wish to participate in the debate.
When I studied Bill C-77 as introduced, I was very much concerned about it. It contained very broad, if not loose, definitions of emergencies; very broad, if not loose, declarations of powers to be declared, or statements of powers, and rather narrow safeguards on the application of those powers. On reading Bill C-77 as introduced, I was led to wondering about the intentions of the Government in this regard.
It is not enough to say that Bill C-77 is better than the War Measures Act, or not as bad as, on the ground that it restricts the powers of the Government in respect of the first three classes of emergency. It is not enough to say that, to some extent, the Charter will continue to govern, even in respect of the fourth and highest class of emergency.
As has been pointed out by a number of concerned members of the public, the proposed Emergencies Act can be used far more easily and far more frequently than the War Measures Act could be used, simply because it has less threatening grades of emergency, with less threatening grades of power incorporated into it.
The feeling has been expressed that the proposed Emergencies Act could be used too freely, and used in an atmosphere of fear of strangers and outsiders, or perhaps with the effect of exacerbating an atmosphere of fear of strangers and outsiders.
I had discussions with members of the public who are more experienced in this area than I, and I was glad to have the opportunity, on a few occasions, to sit in on the deliberations of the committee, either replacing the Member for Brant (Mr. Blackburn) when he was unavoidably called away or accompanying him. I was encouraged by the actions of the committee, and particularly by the actions of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Bradley).
The legislative process has led to considerable improvement of Bill C-77, and it, in itself, is an improvement over the War Measures Act in as much as use of this legislation in respect of the first three grades of emergency will carry with it clear restrictions on the powers of the Government, thus leading to less temptation for its use.
Many of the improvements have already been touched upon by previous speakers. The first that I find very encouraging is that the Cabinet must have reasonable grounds to invoke the emergency powers. It is no longer just the opinion of the Governor in Council. There must be reasonable grounds, which I understand to mean that the Government will have to prove to the court that there were in fact reasonable grounds. And the grounds must seem reasonable, not just to the Governor in Council, but to the court. That is an important advance over the Bill as originally introduced.
I am also pleased to see that the powers of the Government, at least in respect of a public welfare emergency, cannot be used to break a strike.
I am not quite clear how freely this Bill could be used in a public order emergency, or an international emergency, to break and strike. I have some concern about that. But, for the time being, at least, on the lowest grade of emergency, we are assured that it cannot be used for that purpose.
We are now assured that those whose services are commandeered for emergencies will be paid for their work, and will be paid at a reasonable rate. As well, people whose property is damaged as a consequence of any action taken in an emergency will be eligible for compensation.
These are important clarifications to the legislation. We are also assured that censorship will not be used during peace time. That is of extreme importance.
The second most important, if not the most important, improvement is that having to do with the definition of an “emergency”. It is a critically important improvement in the Bill as currently drafted. Bill C-77, as currently drafted, states:
3. For the purposes of this Act, a “national emergency” is an urgent and critical situation of a temporary nature that
(a) seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians and is of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it, or
(b) seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada—
Those are very important concrete criteria, and I am glad that they are in the legislation in those terms, although I will have a word or two to say about the second of those two criteria later in my remarks.
However, to continue, it also provides, and this is very far-reaching, that these events or dangers “cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.” As has been pointed out, had a definition of that sort been operative in 1970, the application of the War Measures Act would have been ruled out. The only concern I have with it, and one of the previous speakers raised the question of vagueness in the definitions and I have some concerns there, but this is as far as we could get, when you say “preserve the sovereignty and security of Canada”, those words can be very subjectively judged. Dictator Pinochet in Chile does many terrible, unjustifiable things, by our standards, in the name of security. Security is an elastic word and I could not think of any way to clarify it further, but that may be an item we have to consider further in future years.
Sovereignty is also a rather vague and often rhetorical term. I do not think it is the most reliable basis for law, but given the final clause concerning no other law being sufficient to meet the matter, I think the vagueness is limited a little bit.
I also wish to point out a very important amendment proposed by the National Association of Japanese Canadians. We now have the guarantee that the Cabinet could not give itself new powers or override the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I understand that in 1945 the Cabinet did exactly
the first of those things. It gave itself a power that did not exist under the original War Measures Act. The original Act was due to terminate or be terminated after the war, but before that could happen the Cabinet gave itself the power to extend its power beyond 1945 respecting Japanese Canadians. In fact, it held them, exiled from their homes in British Columbia, for four years. I admire the Japanese Canadians. They warned us that we must make sure that in the excitement of wartime the Cabinet is prohibited from enlarging its powers under this Act. I am very pleased that the committee recommended that and the Government adopted it.
The Bill contains restrictions on the power to restrict public assembly, but only to be used for events that are apparently leading to violence. Again there is a little uncertainty there. There is left a judgment to be made by someone, and of course we cannot at this point know exactly who, that if a meeting is considered to be leading to violence, then it can be prohibited or restricted. I suppose there would be a requirement to show evidence that that was likely to happen or a reasonable person would see that as likely to happen. The Hon. Member for Cape Breton—The Sydneys (Mr. MacLellan) feels that is not tight or not clear enough. I have some uneasiness of the same sort. I wish the Member had assisted the committee in improving on the wording. He did not offer an amendment today. It may be that he has the same difficulty as I do, that he does not know how to improve it. However, it may be an item we will have to improve in future.
A good deal has been said about the proposal to refer this legislation to the Supreme Court. I do not believe it would demean the status of this House or the Government, given such an extremely important Bill, to ask the Supreme Court for its comments when we have done our work here. It is not that we have not done our work, it is not that we have not tried, it is not that we have not had some very excellent advice from experienced members of the public on this Bill. In as much as nothing is perfect, we do not know how imperfect or in what way it might be imperfect.
When this legislation is used, if it ever must be used, it will be very difficult to go back and correct it. It is not enough to try out sort of one experiment and say we will do better next time. The stakes are much too high. I think, therefore, it would be very appropriate, not with every Bill but with this Bill, to ask the Supreme Court to give us its advice. If it did and asked us to improve some things, I believe this Parliament and Government would probably accept the advice gladly.
There was one amendment made with respect to refugees and I am very glad of it. They will not be expelled. Those who are refugees in the legal sense and not prohibited in any other legal sense will not be expelled under the powers given on page 16. However, there is a lack of clarity as to the admission of refugees. I think, because of the unfinished state of Bill C-55, the Government is taking an overly cautious position there, so I would hope that is another point that can be cleared up later on.
In my final couple of minutes I want to say that in my experience we owe a very considerable debt of gratitude to those Japanese Canadians who have formed the National Association of Japanese Canadians. There are many other groups that helped in this. My colleague, the Hon. Member for Brant, listed them this morning. However, the Japanese Canadians are a small group, a group singled out for an attack such as no other group has suffered in our time in this century, a group still crippled in their association by the results of that attack, financially and emotionally.
That group has single-mindedly, to my knowledge, for at least 15 years campaigned to have the War Measures Act repealed or revised. It is a small group, one of the smaller ethnic groups in Canada. As I say, it has been much hurt by the events of the 1940s particularly. However, not solely for themselves but for all Canadians, they have insisted that we make sure that what was done wrongly to them—not an excess in wartime as Prime Minister Trudeau tried to excuse it—done wrongly for wrong reasons to them under the guise of war measures, can never be done to anyone again. I think they have done a great service to this country in that respect.
Finally, I want to congratulate my colleague, the Hon. Member for Brant, for very steady, patient and effective work on this Bill, considering, as was remarked, that there is much less public interest in it than I would have expected. I also wish to thank the Government for its willingness to revise its own Bill not once, not twice, but several times in accordance with suggestions from the public or the Opposition. I do believe this Bill is vastly better than it was last June.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): Questions or comments?
Mr. Caccia: Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask a question of the Hon. Member for Spadina (Mr. Heap) who shared the time with the Hon. Member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Rodriguez). I listened to both of them very attentively.
Perhaps the Hon. Member for Spadina could tell the House what he would have done in 1970 when the Quebec Minister of Labour had been kidnapped and no one knew of his whereabouts, and when the United Kingdom High Commissioner had been kidnapped and no one knew of his whereabouts. Furthermore, the Government of Quebec asked Ottawa to invoke the War Measures Act.
I want to ask him, without the benefit of hindsight, whether he would have invoked the War Measures Act under those circumstances. If not, what would he have done?
Mr. Heap: Mr. Speaker, I remember the occasion. Of course, I was not in Ottawa then and did not have either the advantage or disadvantage of being on the Hill.
I remember my feeling then, which has been sharpened by recent information, that it was overkill, that we have a
Criminal Code, laws on treason and sedition. We have the RCMP, the local police forces and the Army.
I believe that the imposition of the War Measures Act was unnecessary. I think the experience showed that. I think the general understanding of what happened is that the successes that were achieved in apprehending the small groups that were causing the violence were achieved not because of the War Measures Act but irrelevantly to it, that is, by the normal operation of the law and the forces of the law.
I think it was grossly destructive that several hundred people were arbitrarily arrested, held without charge for a number of weeks, and most of them released without charge. I think that induced a sense of panic.
Perhaps the Government was in a panic, but I have been told by Members of this House at that time and who are still here today that they were promised evidence of an apprehended insurrection and that that evidence was never brought to them.
I do not know how the then Prime Minister answers for such a vital promise broken, but I believe that raises a long-standing question as to the wisdom of using that Act.
Mr. Caccia: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Spadina perhaps might wish to comment on the following excerpt from a letter written by the Mayor of Montreal at that time, when he wrote to the federal Government and said:
The Chief of the Montreal Police—
I am reading this passage because the Member for Spadina made reference to the adequacy of the municipal police forces:
—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.
Would the Hon. Member like to comment on that?
Mr. Heap: I would be very glad to comment on that because that same mayor of Montreal has a long established reputation for being quite a dictator, not a democrat in his conduct. In fact, it is interesting to know that there was an electoral movement of opposition to him, the FRAP, organized in Montreal, about to contest the municipal elections, which was completely shattered and made ineffective by the use of the War Measures Act.
It may be true in a sense that the mayor felt he was faced by things he could not control, but it is not clear that it was the kind of thing that the War Measures Act should be dealing with. If he cleaned up his own act as mayor of Montreal he might not have had to make such an overreaching demand.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): I will allow another supplementary.
Mr. Caccia: Would the Hon. Member for Spadina apply the same criteria to the Premier of Quebec at that time for being a dictator? He wrote and made a request along the following lines:
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 violent 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 was the Premier of Quebec. Does he also qualify as a dictator or unduly elected representative of the people?
Mr. Heap: Mr. Speaker, my knowledge about the mayor of Montreal is more specific than my knowledge about the then Premier of Quebec, although I had lived in Quebec previous to that and I have had experience, directly and indirectly, with the dictatorial concept of a former Attorney General of Quebec, the inventor and user of the padlock law, which fortunately was a thing of the past at the time we are speaking of.
I would say, about the time we are speaking of, that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If the Premier of Quebec thought that the several hundred artists, performers, social workers, lawyers and other professional people were somehow or other an armed band going to overthrow the Government of Quebec, then he clearly did not have the judgment which his office requires and his letter was clearly a foolish letter.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): Questions and comments are now terminated. Debate.
Mr. Don Boudria (Glengarry—Prescott—Russell): Mr. Speaker, first I want to congratulate my colleague, the Member for Davenport (Mr. Caccia), for the excellent questions he just raised in the House.
I was not going to raise the issue of the imposition of the War Measures Act in 1970, but because of the replies that have just been given by the Member for Spadina (Mr. Heap) to the questions asked by my colleague, I believe this issue should be raised in the House now.
Of course, no one looks back on 1970 with pride. It was a very regrettable situation in the history of our country. However, we have survived as a nation and we can at least look back upon the year 1970. I suppose it is fair for anyone in the House to criticize the Government of the day for the actions that were taken to invoke the War Measures Act in 1970, with the support of a majority of the Official Opposition, as I understand it. It is not simply a situation where a Government acted unilaterally with anyone’s input, consent or support. Of course, hindsight is 20-20 vision, especially if one is a New Democrat, but I remind this House, as did my distinguished colleague, the Hon. Member for Davenport of a letter sent by the Premier of Quebec at that time. Whether one agrees or
disagrees with him, he certainly held office for three terms and his Government was elected again very recently with a substantial majority vote. Presumably, that Government enjoys the respect of the population of that province.
In 1970 the Premier of Quebec wrote to his federal counterpart asking for assistance. I remind the Hon. Member for Portneuf (Mr. Ferland), who spoke a little earlier today about unilateral actions taken by the federal Government against Quebec, of an excerpt of the letter which reads:
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 a very strong letter written by the Premier of Quebec at that time, sharing with his federal counterparts the opinion not only of himself but that of his Attorney General. A letter written by the Mayor of Montreal has already been read in part into the record. The Mayor of Montreal, with probably the largest or the second largest municipal police force in this country, said at that time:
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.
We all know which kidnappings were referred to in that letter. It referred to the kidnappings of a prominent provincial cabinet Minister and the British Trade Commissioner in Canada. Those activities, eventually led to a manifesto being read on television. We all remember that. It was read by the media which at that time certainly felt that what was happening was so intimidating that it must read the upsetting FLQ manifesto on air.
Those people who were not living in the Province of Quebec at the time and those who pretended that nothing had happened then, could moralize today. I suppose that is their right. But at least they should remember what happened then.
Mr. Speaker, I myself am a native of Quebec and represent a Franco-Ontarian riding; the border between Ontario and Quebec, where I live in my riding, is mostly the Ottawa River. I remember crossing the bridge between Grenville, Quebec and Hawkesbury, Ontario the evening that the late Mr. Laporte was found dead in the trunk of a car. I remember waiting three hours that night to cross Perley Bridge into Hawkesbury, something that should have taken about 45 seconds. We all remember those days. But as a Canadian that night, Mr. Speaker, I certainly felt some frustration when I had to wait to cross the Perley Bridge to return home. I was coming back from work in Quebec, where I used to work on the weekend, and still I think that all of us who were waiting there knew—or at any rate, believed—that the measures that had been taken were necessary.
It is important to remember that the letters written by the Premier of Quebec and the Mayor of Montreal, who was responding to a request of the Chief of the Montreal Police, referred to acts of apprehended insurrection. The Premier requested powers encompassing the authority to apprehend and keep in custody individuals who, the Attorney General of Quebec had valid reasons to believe, were determined to overthrow the Government through violence and illegal means. So the federal Government at that time used the tools it had.
Today, of course, we will have a better law or, at least, a law which we hope will be better. Heaven forbid that this new law will ever be used, but in the unfortunate event that it is used, will we look at it and say what a blunt instrument it is and how inappropriate? That was the only law available to us to do the job we had to do, given what we knew at the time. So I remind all Members about those facts.
Enough about that part of our history. We should really address the new Bill which, of course, is one all Members of this House will agree is better than the one we had, as it should be better. If the new Bill is not going to be better than what we had before, we would really have to question the work of all Members of Parliament, the legislative draft persons, and so on, all those who assisted us with the drafting, amending, correcting and passage of the legislation. I just want to remind the Parliamentary Secretary about the speech he gave us a little earlier today. In large measure, it was a fairly good speech.
Mr. Blackburn (Brant): Just fairly good, Bud.
Mr. Boudria: Well, we can say it was a good speech, in large measure. I want to remind the Parliamentary Secretary, as I reminded members of the New Democratic Party, to the imposition of the War Measures Act of 1970. The Parliamentary Secretary said earlier today: “Some things are above politics. I think Bill C-77 is one of them”. He further stated, we have seen some old wounds reopened in recent weeks. Publication of Mr. Jamieson’s diaries with their allegations of political expediency and public representations made by the National Association of Japanese Canadians has reminded us of the horrors of the events of October 1970 and the early 1940s.
I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that he should remind whoever it is who prepared his notes that these two paragraphs should be used together in a speech to lecture
someone else. To say that something is above politics and then to enter two lines later into political diatribe is somewhat inappropriate in my considered opinion.
Notwithstanding all of that, 1 am happy that we have this Bill. I am pleased with the amendments that have been proposed. I know of a text which was written for a publication entitled The National in its March, 1988 edition. The article is entitled “Committee Outlines Problems in Emergency Measures Bill”. This publication is published by the Canadian Bar Association, and I quote from it:
It is our submission that the definitions of the various classes of emergencies need “tightening up” … As it presently stands, this legislation could permit the government to invoke sweeping public order emergency powers to combat such problems as unemployment and inflation.
For example, a “public order emergency” could be declared under the legislation in order to regulate a situation of rising unemployment and inflation.
Indeed, there have been other countries which have used similar legislation to deal with such matters as labour strikes and so on. Of course, we do not want that in Canada, or least I do not want that. I do not think that any Member of the House wants that.
I am glad that the amendments which were proposed and adopted earlier today were worded in such a way as to tighten up the language of the Bill. They remove some of the confusion that could have otherwise been there so that a situation whereby this legislation could be used in such a way has been avoided. I am not suggesting that the Government ever wanted to use the legislation in a situation of strike or anything else. I am not saying that. However, it is important as well that the legislation be perceived as being fair and just. The proposed amendments will give that appearance and will make Canadians generally feel better about the Bill, notwithstanding the good intentions of the people who proposed the Bill in its original form.
As Hon. Members will know, I did not sit on the parliamentary committee that dealt with this Bill. However, judging from the debate earlier today it seems obvious that the committee was not only a very good one but that it was also very well chaired and organized. I congratulate the Members of the House on all sides who participated in the committee and who have proposed the amendments which were carried earlier today.
It is quite obvious that when the Government agrees to adopt amendments of opposition Members and when members of the Opposition unanimously agree to adopt government amendments that means that there was indeed a good spirit of co-operation on the parliamentary committee which dealt with the Bill. I underline that point, along with my other colleagues who have done so. I congratulate the Members of the House who worked on this Bill at the parliamentary committee level.
With those few words, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for allowing me to participate in the debate on this Bill. It is my hope that it will become law very soon.
Mr. Ferland: Mr. Speaker, I may have a small question for my colleague from Glengarry—Prescott—Russell (Mr. Boudria).
He said a moment ago that in my speech I had referred to the federal Government’s unilateral action. I do not believe I said that in my remarks. However I listened carefully to what he said concerning the requests of the Quebec Premier in 1970, and the way he read the document my understanding was that at the time the Quebec Premier sought the assistance of the federal Government but, unless I am mistaken, he did not specifically ask that the War Measures Act be invoked.
Now in light of Mr. Jamieson’s statements which, to some extent, were confirmed recently by certain people who were in Cabinet at the time, it would seem much more probable that the then federal Liberal Government had indeed wanted to resort to the War Measures Act for what we Quebecers have understood to be a means to get Quebecers to toe the line. It was much more a means of retaliation of the federal Government against the people of Quebec than an attempt to respond to a request for assistance on the part of the Premier of Quebec, as my colleague from Glengarry—Prescott—Russell has suggested.
I wish he would shed some light on the documents he has been reading, because the way I see it it was simply a request for assistance and not for the implementation of the war measures.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I will be glad to respond to my colleague who just asked a question of me. I want to refresh his memory with respect to the contents of the letter. I quote in part the letter from the Premier of Quebec which states:
—I request that emergency powers be provided as soon as possible—
That is the first point. The next sentence states:
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.
I remind the Hon. Member of what the Mayor of Montreal said after consulting with his Chief of Police. He said that he needed the assistance of “higher levels of government”. He also said that it 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. Those are not my words, those are the words of the Mayor of the city and of the Premier of the province, a Premier who is in office today as we are speaking.
Something else I wish to say to the Hon. Member is that if he thinks and feels that his Party would have done differently in 1970, and if that was so bad, then why did his own Party support this measure at that time?
Mr. Blackburn (Brant): Mr. Speaker, I wish to clarify a point that my Liberal colleague made at the outset of his speech this afternoon when he made reference to the fact that with the wisdom of hindsight vision is 20-20, or words to that effect. In other words, he was implying that because we are looking back some 18 years it is easy to be critical of what the Government of the day did.
I wish to put on the record once again, and I wish to remind my hon. friend, that at the time in the autumn of 1970 some 16 members of my Party out of, I believe, 19 Members, voted against the imposition of the War Measures Act. So I did not stand here in my place today with the wisdom of hindsight and 20-20 vision. My Party voted against its imposition and took a terrible beating in the popular opinion polls at the time for having done so. I just want to clarify that point and not leave the misconception on the record.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I agree with the Hon. Member for Brant (Mr. Blackburn). Unlike the Tories who said yes at that time, members of the Hon. Member’s Party were divided on the issue. There was division within the NDP caucus. Some said yes and some said no, that is quite true.
Mr. Kilgour: Not all Tories supported the measure in 1973, some of us, the Hon. David MacDonald, and others actually published a book opposing the use of the War Measures Act in 1970.
Has the Member read the book entitled The Politics of Racism: The Uprooting of Japanese Canadians During The Second World War by Ann Gomer Sunahara, who happens to be a constituent of mine, about the internment of Japanese Canadians?. If the Hon. Member is aware of those events, and he may not be because it is a long time ago for both of us, would he tell us whether he thinks that the Right Hon. Ian Mackenzie, the British Columbia Minister at the time in the King Cabinet, to put it mildly, was not guilty of racism for what he did in British Columbia? Does the Hon. Member have a comment on that?
Mr. Boudria: The Hon. Member for Edmonton—Strathcona (Mr. Kilgour) is quite correct when he says that I was not around at the time. In my opinion, the internment of Japanese Canadians was an absolutely abhorrent act, just like the deportation of the Acadians.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): Questions and comments are now terminated. On debate, the Hon. Member for Esquimalt—Saanich.
Mr. Patrick Crofton (Esquimalt—Saanich): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to offer a few thoughts on Bill C- 77. As a member of the legislative committee, I can attest to the diligence and sensitivity with which all Members from various Parties in the House debated the matter. In particular, I would like to single out the excellent chairmanship of my colleague, the Hon. Member for Victoria (Mr. McKinnon) and the very fine contribution made by our colleague, the Hon. Member for Brant (Mr. Blackburn). To me it was the spirit of Parliament debating a serious issue seriously in the best possible tradition. Consequently, I believe Parliament should make the proposed Emergencies Act the law of the land, for the protection of all Canadians, young and old, and to do it now.
The Bill is flexible. It is responsible, and it is responsive. It is yet another example of a promise made and a promise kept. It is legislation that is long overdue. For the past 18 years, Canadians, and representatives on all sides of the House, have been saying, “The War Measures Act must go”.
The Emergencies Act, this replacement for the War Measures Act, is finely tuned legislation, considered with care to deal flexibly with four different types of national emergencies. First, public welfare emergency caused by serious natural disaster, disease, accident, pollution, or breakdown in services; second, public order emergency caused by serious threats to the security of the country; third, international emergency caused by serious acts or threats of intimidation or coercion against Canada or our allies; and finally, war emergency caused by actual or imminent war or armed conflict involving Canada or our allies.
This is legislation which vitally affects the rights of young children, senior citizens, disabled persons, the sick, and everyone who, in an emergency, might depend entirely on the capacities, resources, protection, and the sense of responsibility of the Government of Canada.
I think I can rightly say that each of us in this House is most concerned with three basic issues: the completely unsatisfactory legislation we have had in the past; the compelling need to deal effectively and fairly with national emergencies in the future; and the carefully constructed and remodeled Bill which the Government proposes today.
Thoughtful citizens in each of our constituencies across this country, realize that Parliament must create now a new legal framework to deal with national emergencies, and one that safeguards the civil rights of its citizens. They recognize that the law must provide, on the one hand, authority for prompt action by the Government to protect all Canadians as a nation, and on the other hand, safeguards for our basic rights and freedoms, to protect each Canadian as an individual.
Preparation of this legislation required a just, careful balancing between the interests of the public and the freedoms of the individual person. We are assured that this legislation will be subservient always to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I believe we can agree that leaders of the Government, Public Service advisers, members of the legislative committee, representatives of many associations, individual citizens and, most certainly, Members of the House, can all take satisfaction from having contributed to this endeavour. Many perceptive, prudent people have invested time and effort in this Bill as it was prepared, debated, discussed, and now
amended. Our fellow citizens in each of our constituencies now expect us to weigh, to decide, and to act on this legislation.
We are fortunate to have had the time and opportunity, now, in conditions of peace and calm, far removed from the relentless pressures of a compelling emergency, to reflect, to discuss, and to prepare for the future.
Sadly, we need merely watch the news on television, or read newspapers and magazines to see every day people and Governments around the world struggling with war, revolt, famine, and disasters. They certainly are reminders of how fortunate we Canadians are.
This has not always been the case in Canada, as we know to our sorrow. One of the darkest episodes of Canadian history took place in my own province. After years of official and unofficial harassment, the ill treatment of Japanese residents of British Columbia reached a new low in February, 1942, when the Government of Canada issued an executive order under the War Measures Act. It decreed the forced removal from their homes of more than 20,000 men, women, and children who were citizens or permanent residents of Canada. They were to be sent to camps and towns at least 100 miles from the Pacific coast.
In the climate of the time the public did have good reason to be concerned. The world was at war. In a sudden peacetime attack on Pearl Harbour, Japanese Armed Forces had just sunk 19 ships of the United States Navy. They had killed and captured hundreds of Canadian troops defending Hong Kong. They were about to launch a successful landing on the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Japanese submarines were scouting the Pacific coast.
Nevertheless, the local commanders of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police advised the Government that Japanese Canadians, permanent residents, citizens, and people born in Canada, posed no threat to security. In fact, the Government never did charge any Japanese Canadian with disloyalty.
Instead of following reasoned, professional advice, the Government reacted to prejudice and fear. Thousands upon thousands of Japanese Canadians were rounded up and interned. The Government then proceeded to sell their fishing boats, automobiles, farms, businesses, homes, and even their personal belongings at less than true value. All this took place under powers provided by Parliament when it passed the War Measures Act in 1914.
This disgraceful treatment of our fellow citizens by the Government of Canada over 40 years ago is most relevant to the provisions of the Emergencies Act which we have before us today. It underscores the need for Parliament to consider such a serious issue in a period of calm away from the attentions of an emergency situation, in order that we can have on the legislative books a reasoned, proper, fair, and legal method for dealing with emergencies, so that these sad occasions of the past will never be repeated.
Over the past six months, the Minister and the Government have listened to, and acted upon, many of the suggestions of the National Association of Japanese Canadians, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Bar Association, and others. This Bill explicitly rules out detention, imprisonment, or internment of Canadians citizens or permanent residents, on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, or other discrimination.
The types of situations that would justify emergency powers have been narrowed and defined more clearly. Reasonable compensation for loss, injury, or damage will be mandatory, rather than at the discretion of the Government. Emergency orders and regulations must be related directly to remedying the particular emergency, and citizens may challenge these in the courts. Orders and regulations are to be reviewed by a special all-Party parliamentary committee. This independent committee is to report regularly to Parliament on what the Government is doing and why. The Government must table orders and regulations within two days. The Bill now specifies no time limits on debate of a motion to confirm or continue a state of emergency or to revoke orders or regulations. A Member of Parliament may raise a motion to revoke or amend an order or regulation with no time limit now specified in the Bill.
As the result of the contributions of many organizations and citizens, these are safeguards of the rights of the individual and the rights of Parliament which have now become part of this legislation.
There are many other important amendments which greatly improved the Bill. The legislation, as has been pointed out, also reinforces provincial authority and explicitly provides for federal participation by request of a provincial Government.
For example, one seismologist told an interviewer on The Journal, the CBC television program, that we might have an earthquake along the coast of B.C. as big as the one which broke the southern coast of Chile in 1960. Five thousand people died there. He said that we must also take seriously the possibility of a much bigger earthquake, as big as any in the world in the last 1,500 years. It would be completely off the Richter scale.
This is a prediction that no one wants to hear, but in B.C. we have to face it. As experts have explained, an earthquake is like having a whole series of disasters all at once. Some day the following, God forbid, could occur suddenly and simultaneously: hundreds of deaths; thousands of injuries; thousands trapped, including the very young, the elderly, and the sick; hospitals swamped; homes destroyed; buildings demolished; bridges collapsed; highways closed; power cut; communications cut; gas mains broken; water mains broken; many fires out of control; massive floods; and streets full of debris and closed to rescuers.
This is the terrible situation that the Emergencies Act is designed to help in recovery. This will be a national emergency crying out for and demanding a national response. This legislation provides the framework and allows for the regulations required by the Government of Canada to carry out its mandate, its responsibilities, if a national emergency arises. Unfortunately we must say, realistically, “when a national emergency arises”.
We must respond with a sense of urgency to these circumstances. Our past legislation has been completely unsatisfactory. We have a compelling need to deal effectively and fairly with national emergencies in the future. The Government has now proposed a carefully constructed and remodeled Bill. This is legislation which vitally affects all Canadians. We must now join the ranks of the other western democracies which have had modern legislation to deal with emergencies in place for years.
This is a meritorious Bill. We have had debate in the House. We have had qualified advice from knowledgeable witnesses who appeared before the committee. We have had careful review in committee. We have had cogent, incisive amendments which the Government has accepted and adopted as needed improvements.
The Government made a promise. The Government has kept that promise. The time has come for us to act. Canadians across the country in each of our constituencies are waiting for us to put in place the law we need to deal with national emergencies.
I am confident, Mr. Speaker, that Members on both sides of the House feel that we can now come together, in unity of purpose, and make the Emergencies Act the law of the land, for the protection of Canadians, young and old.
Hon. Chas. L. Caccia (Davenport): Mr. Speaker, in the course of this very interesting debate today the Parliamentary Secretary, the Member for Haldimand—Norfolk (Mr. Bradley), stated, in introducing the legislation, said that it is intended to prevent abuse of the executive power or, in other words, to ensure that abuse of executive power will not recur. That seems to me to be the nub of this Bill and the principle behind its concept, at least in good part.
In the case of the Japanese Canadians, history has already amply demonstrated that there was abuse of executive power at that time. As was shown on a television program recently, the same happened to Americans of Japanese descent. Twice on this continent in the same period of history there occurred the phenomenon of executive power taking action with respect to citizens in their own country.
I refer to Canadians of Japanese descent and, south of the border, to Americans of Japanese descent. They were removed to camps from their homes, villages, towns, and from their property. This blatant infliction of injustice on them on a personal basis as well as a collective basis remains with us today, and other Members have quite rightly referred to it.
We disagree, however, in this debate on the assessment of what happened in 1970 in Montreal. It may be that not enough time has elapsed for everyone to have developed a sufficient detachment from the occurrences of that time. If you agree with me, Mr. Speaker, that there is a role for the state on behalf of society in cases of kidnappings to protect the collective rights and at the same time to resolve the serious and tragic predicaments of individuals in that society, you will understand why I reject the intervention made earlier by the Member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Rodriguez) and elaborated upon by his colleague, the Member for Spadina (Mr. Heap).
Either they are misguided, their historical memories are short or, as I suspect, they are historically wrong, their facts are incorrect and they are trying now to appear to be on the side of the angels, namely, on the side of individual rights, forgetting what was going on at that time both in this House and in Quebec, particularly in Montreal.
Therefore, I object strenuously to the statements made by the Member for Nickel Belt and the Member for Spadina because they seem to forget that at that time not one but two residents of Quebec had been kidnapped. I would like to ask them rhetorically what they would have done if they had had the responsibility to govern. Evidently they have never had the responsibility to govern.
It is interesting to remember that the NDP was split on the vote, as was indicated to us earlier by the Member for Brant (Mr. Blackburn). Two Members in their group voted for the legislation at that time. Evidently those two were able to put themselves, intellectually and politically, in the position of the Government of the day.
The conclusion at which I must arrive is that no Party in power at that time, considering the situation, would have been able to reject the requests of the Mayor of Montreal and the Premier of Quebec to invoke certain measures.
I do not object at all to the role and the responsibility of the Opposition to disagree and even to criticize the Government for certain actions, but it is important to put that historical situation into the right context to understand why certain steps were taken. Bill C-77, as I understand it, has been an important step. I congratulate the Members involved who evidently have worked very well together, but it is not a measure to be used to prove that executive powers in 1970 were abused by the Government of the day. As I said, I would challenge anyone in this House at any time to deny that to reject the request made of the federal Government by the then mayor of a city and the Premier of the province involved—one of its partners in Confederation—would be an act of indifference.
What is in the process of Confederation, I ask, if in circumstances of tragic need the Government in charge of Confederation is not available and does not come through in answer to a request of one of its partners in Confederation? It would be a very serious blow to the cohesion of Confederation in a
moment of such dire need as expressed by two individuals who happened to be at the same time not appointed individuals but elected individuals.
The argument was made by the Hon. Member for Spadina that the Mayor of Montreal was either not very popular, a tyrant or whatever, but the fact remains that he was an elected official. Evidently his request had to be considered within that light. The request was reinforced not in a vacuum but by the request of another elected official who happened to be the Premier of the province involved.
I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that the combination of these two factors is pretty powerful and such that no executive at the federal level could take the request lightly, disregard or not accede to it.
The principle, of course, is one in which I believe. In a civilized society one has to protect individual rights and at the same time ensure that collective rights have their place and are respected. The two are not exclusive of each other but complementary. There are times in emergencies when collective rights of a society may have to be given precedence over individual rights, which is abhorrent for anyone who believes strongly in individual rights. Nevertheless, in certain circumstances you may have a situation like that emerging in a civilized society where a Government acts for the sake of the common good and for the sake of the collective good. In a way it is the mandate given by the population when it elects a Government.
There may be times when, with the benefit of hindsight, criticism arises for actions that were perhaps exaggerated far too strongly and perhaps not warranted by the circumstances. But in Montreal in 1970, two individuals had disappeared and neither the local authorities nor the provincial authorities were able to cope with the situation and they sought the help of the senior level Government. What would you do in that position, I ask, Mr. Speaker?
It is important that we come to grips with the principles embodied in Bill C-77. They are extremely important. I suppose a lot of thought and consideration was given by Members to this principle in committee. It is extremely important to ensure that there is no abuse by the executive power and that such instances do not occur in a civilized society like Canada, but that the past, particularly the situation in Montreal in 1970, be analysed through the optic of the responsibility that falls upon those who are in power, with the full knowledge and understanding of the intervention, massive as it may have been as a result of a request made by elected officials at both junior levels.
Mr. Kilgour: Mr. Speaker, I have great respect for the the Hon. Member for Davenport (Mr. Caccia) but I differ with him fundamentally. I will say why and then I will ask him for a comment.
I realize the Hon. Member is not a lawyer, but the Criminal Code contains plenty of search and seizure provisions which could have dealt with the situation in October, 1970. I think most lawyers and historians now agree that that is the case.
The Member takes refuge in the fact that two people were kidnapped. Unfortunately people are kidnapped all too often and we do use the Criminal Code, the police and normal civil liberties to deal with such situations. The Hon. Member is saying, in effect, that the Mayor of Montreal and the Premier of Quebec at the time could make such a request, and therefore that made the action right. Probably the best argument we will hear today as to why we need Bill C-77 is because of the abuse that took place then. As well, because of the abuse that took place in 1942, we are now bringing in a new Bill, no thanks to the Government which my friends supported over many, many years.
I remind the Hon. Member that the Mayor of Vancouver also used the War Measures Act to arrest hippies on the beach in Vancouver. I think that there there were more than 600 Québécois who were arrested and held without charge and, in large measure, I put it to the Hon. Member from Davenport, that the election of a separatist Government in Quebec in 1976 was helped by this enormous abuse of power by the Liberal Cabinet of the day here in Ottawa. Of course it was a tragic and a difficult period, but to say that we should have suspended civil liberties in Canada for the kidnapping of two people is, in my respectful view, Sir, simply wrong.
Mr. Caccia: Mr. Speaker, briefly, in response to the Hon. Member for Strathcona (Mr. Kilgour), the key words in his question are that most lawyers now agree that sufficient remedies exist in criminal legislation. Yes, after the fact, with the benefit of hindsight, we can all look back and draw certain conclusions. But in the situation as it was being experienced at that time, even the legal community was divided on this issue. The decision was one that had to be made in the light of circumstances that had to be judged and assessed quickly, upon requests coming from junior levels of Government. Two persons had been kidnapped, had disappeared.
The Hon. Member for Edmonton—Strathcona may, in his value judgment, feel that the invocation of the War Measures Act in the circumstances which then existed was not warranted. Given that the local authorities seemed to be impotent in dealing with the matter, to me seemed sufficient reason to act.
Evidently, our value judgments differ—and it is probably something that has nothing to do with our politics. Nevertheless, it seems to me, in hindsight, that, in the lack of specific knowledge of the extent of the perceived insurrection, the invocation of the War Measures Act was warranted at the time of the October Crisis.
What other measure was available to the Mayor of Montreal and the Premier of Quebec? Their only recourse was to run to the senior level of Government, and evidently they had some reasons to do so. Their political judgment, in light of the circumstances at that time, prompted them to approach the
senior level of Government to act, and the response from Ottawa was not slow in coming.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): The period for questions and comments has now expired. Debate. The Hon. Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of State (Science and Technology) has the floor.
Mrs. Suzanne Duplessis (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of State (Science and Technology)): Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for this opportunity to deal with Bill C-77, the Emergencies Act. I suggest that the proposed legislations will provide fundamental guarantees, both collectively and individually.
Members of this House who have travelled abroad or who simply watch the daily news realize just how lucky we are in Canada. Every day, we can see on television pictures of unfortunate people in a country somewhere in the world attempting to fight against flood, earthquakes, massive chemical leaks or hunger, or a suffering people whose civil and individual rights are being violated.
Over the past fifty years in Canada, we have witnessed very few incidents of political nature which could have had serious national consequences.
Yet, in Quebec, a particular event caused the Government of the day to take a step which was both revolting and shameful, and which struck a blow at the integrity of each and every Canadian.
In October 1970, following the kidnapping in Montreal of James Cross and Pierre Laporte, the Government proclaimed the War Measures Act. Over 450 men and women were arrested in their homes and then held without being charged. Deprived of their rights to seek the advice of a lawyer, they spent days and weeks in prison before being allowed to go free. Arresting these 450 people was particularly wrong, as none of them was ever found guilty of any offence against the War Measures Act.
It is the responsibility of this House to make sure that civil liberties are never again trampled on the way they were in 1970.
Bad laws give poor results and make our living conditions intolerable. The fact that so many groups were interested in and responded to the introduction of this Bill proves that we must pass a law which recognizes explicitly the state’s responsibilities as well as individual rights and freedoms.
Many Canadians with a lot of experience in that area gave their advice, suggestions and warnings to the Legislative Committee and the Minister responsible for Bill C-77.
In that regard, I would like to point out the tremendous amount of work done by the Canadian Bar Association, various lawyers, the Civil Liberties Union, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the National Association of Japanese Canadians.
Obviously, the Committee and the Minister have generally followed their advice. We looked at the list of amendments which include:
—more explicit definitions of emergency situations;
—better provisions for lawsuits;
—better protection of civil rights such as the right to call meetings and freedom of speech as well as protection against arbitrary search and seizure;
—better compensation for requisition, theft or loss of goods and services.
I am sure that as Members of Parliament, we appreciate all the changes to the Emergencies Act provisions which provide Parliamentary control.
The time during which emergency powers can be exercised without being renewed by Parliament has been reduced. Orders in council and regulations passed by the Government must be laid before the House sooner, and Parliament will have more time to ascertain whether or not they should be revoked. The Parliamentary Review Committee will report on the situation to Parliament at least every 60 days. Furthermore, once the emergency is expired, it will be followed by an official inquiry. This will allow for effective representation by all members of the House of their voters.
I was municipal councillor in Sainte-Foy, Quebec, and also chairman of a Red Cross sector. As such, I am fully aware of the need to put in place a legal structure and to take the necessary measures thus enabling local authorities to deal with emergency situations brought upon by floods, tornadoes, major transportation accidents or chemical spills.
This legislation allows for effective action on the part of provincial and municipal officials in carrying out their duties. Mayors, municipal councillors and public services like the Red Cross must know where they stand legally in an emergency situation. Thanks to the emergency measures bill, they know they will have the legal means to take swiftly the necessary measures.
We can certainly imagine the difficulties a mayor and a municipal council are faced with in our own riding: in an emergency situation, they bear all the pressure and we expect them to act wisely and swiftly. They must be aware of what federal and provincial governments have the power to do.
Mr. Speaker, those of us who have lived in certain remote regions of our country appreciate the peace, the freedom and the wide-open spaces which characterize our small towns and our countryside. But we also appreciate knowing that in case of a disaster, a tragedy or a conflict, major national resources could be mobilized to come to our help as a community or as a nation. This bill established the legal foundation upon which Canada can fulfil its obligation to guarantee peace, order and good government.
For close to 18 years, Mr. Speaker, Canadians have been waiting for the repeal of the dangerous War Measures Act, a piece of legislation which has been hanging as a threat over our heads all that time. Never again should innocent people be treated like criminals as was the case of 450 of our fellow Canadians, including artists, writers, lawyers or members of groups which were not a threat to anyone.
Even criminals are entitled to be duly charged, to get legal advice, and to communicate with their families.
I think that Canadian from coast to coast share the view that time has come to do something about the War Measures Act. Mr. Speaker, I urge Hon. Members on both sides of the House to give full consideration and swift passage to this Bill. We can be sure that people in every riding are following the proceedings and are anxious to see the Emergencies Act on the statute books of this country, for it amounts to a tradition, a legacy, a pledge against tyranny in Canada. The kind of terrible abuses to which we are the sad witnesses practically every day in foreign lands ought never to happen again here.
The Emergencies Act explicitly and carefully defines the particular and exceptional conditions wherein the needs of the state may temporarily take precedence over the rights of citizens.
Mr. Mike Cassidy (Ottawa Centre): First of all, Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague, the Hon. Member for Brant (Mr. Blackburn) for an excellent job. On behalf of the New Democratic Party, he participated very actively in the Committee proceedings on Bill C-77.
I suggest that the minimal interest shown by the Liberal Party for this Bill was demonstrated by the fact that none of its Members could be found to attend the Legislative Committee meetings on a regular basis. The Government has demonstrated some flexibility by accepting, nearly 50 out of the 60 amendments the New Democratic Party had proposed, through my friend the Hon. Member for Brant, which accounts for a much improved Bill.
I think that we should also emphasize the participation of a number of groups for the defence of rights and freedoms which, through their direct or indirect participation, have contributed to the improvement of this Bill.
Before reviewing the new legislation, Mr. Speaker, it is necessary to replace the whole issue in its proper perspective specifically the October 1970 crisis, because without it, I doubt seriously that we would be dealing with it now.
It is a fact that the War Measures Act, the legislation which Bill C-77 is meant to replace, was excessively drastic. It is also a fact that this infamous legislation was a source of abuse, including the jailing without warrant in 1970 of innocent citizens, most of them nationalists or leftist militants active in so-called “subversive” organizations such as the Parti québécois. Denial of their right to consult a lawyer, in fact denial of the presumption of innocence through long emprisonment of people such as singer Pauline Julien and poet Gerald Godin who were kept in custody without any justification or explanation other than the power of the War Measures Act.
Mr. Speaker, I remember the presence of Armed Forces personnel everywhere in Quebec, and even here, in the National Capital area.
The City of Ottawa looked like an armed fort, ready for an invisible aggressor, which only the federal Government at the time seemed to see.
Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, there was no apprehended insurrection, and the Liberal Government at the time, especially its Prime Minister, never at any moment had information on the basis of which one could conclude the existence of apprehended insurrection. That is clear today. However, it was the existence of such a threat that was the main reason for implementing the War Measures Act.
Only the New Democrats spoke out against the declaration of this horrendous legislation. The Conservative Official Opposition voted with the Liberals in favour of suspending individual liberties, but they did so on the basis of assurances given by the Government—assurances that were ill-founded, Mr. Speaker.
I agree there was a crisis in Quebec in October 1970. The kidnappings of James Richard Cross and Pierre Laporte are unfortunate events in the political history of Quebec and Canada. In a liberal democracy, we cannot tolerate violence and terrorism as a means to a political end.
That being said, violence and terrorism should not be used as a pretext for unbridled and useless violence by the State. Both are unlawful and both are a threat to the democratic foundations of our political system.
Wrongfully resorting to the use of police and security forces is even less legitimate when there is no evidence, and that was the case in October 1970, that military occupation of and the resulting suspension of liberties will in some way contribute to a peaceful solution of the problem. We know that sending in the army did not in any way contribute toward a peaceful solution of the crisis and or prevent its tragic outcome.
Why, once the dust was settled and the crisis was over and done with, didn’t the Liberal Government immediately abolish the War Measures Act and replace it with legislation more in keeping with our democratic traditions?
Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, 1 am very disappointed in the fact that in today’s debate, the Liberals here in the House tried to justify what was done in 1970, instead of saying they were sorry for what happened at the time and agreeing with the need for legislation that is far more moderate and more respectful of civil rights, like the legislation we have now in the form of Bill C-77, as amended in committee during the past few weeks.
Mr. Speaker, the silence of the then Minister of Justice in October 1970 and the Liberal Leader today is also very disturbing. One would expect more political courage on his part.
Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I am running out of time, because I had further comments to make. Perhaps I could let the debate proceed with questions and comments and have a chance to give my remaining comments on the amendments during this period.
Mr. Blackburn (Brant): Mr. Speaker, would my colleague care to comment on what he considers to be some of the very significant amendments we were able to gain during committee hearings and clause by clause study, particularly with respect to civil liberties and the oversight power Parliament will now have with respect to these extraordinary measures the Government still needs in order to face an emergency, if one should arise?
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for his questions. I believe that we New Democrats in the Opposition have been very consistent. We spoke out against the War Measures Act in 1970 and we worked hard in 1988 to get rid of that law and to replace it with a more responsible one that would protect and preserve individual liberties as much as possible.
It is true that the first version of Bill C-77 was unacceptable. It was roundly condemned by the Human Rights League and organizations concerned with respect for individual liberties. But I believe that it is due to the spirit of Parliamentary reform that prevailed in the legislative committee that many of the principles that we proposed in our amendments were accepted by the Government.
Indeed, these changes helped ensure, for example, that the Cabinet must have reasonable grounds for invoking emergency powers. That is an improvement. That the powers would not be used to break a strike. Very important. That citizens whose property was damaged in an emergency situation would be compensated. That censorship would not be used in peacetime. Finally, that provincial jurisdiction would be respected.
Mr. Speaker, even after the first series of amendments, groups concerned with rights and freedoms again insisted that the Bill be improved. As a result, new amendments were proposed. They include: A new definition of national emergency that is more specific and less likely to lead to excesses; guarantees that the powers provided by Bill C-77 will only be used if current laws are inadequate to deal with the situation; restrictions on prison sentences and fines; the right to appeal for compensation; the creation of an all-party committee to review situations involving confidentiality; a compulsory afterthe- fact inquiry on the circumstances of the emergency.
That, Mr. Speaker, is very important. It means that if the Government decides to invoke the new law, within a year, a Parliamentary committee will have to review it and look again to see whether or not the use of these powers was justified. Mr. Speaker, the Parliament of Canada did not have the opportunity or the ability to check and see whether invoking the War Measures Act in October 1970 was justified or not.
We are assured that prison camps for civilians will not be established.
Those are some of the amendments that were accepted. There are others too, Mr. Speaker. I can comment on that if my hon. friend wants more information.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski): Since there are no more questions or comments, and there being no Hon. Members rising to speak in debate, pursuant to order made earlier this day I therefore declare debate on the motion for third reading on 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, adjourned until six o’clock, Wednesday, April 27, 1988, at which time the Chair shall put every question necessary to dispose of the Bill.