Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck:
Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. We heard just a few moments ago how the bill creates the right balance and that we should deal with it today because we have satisfied Canadians by having enough witnesses. However, when we walk into the Reading Room, what do we see on the television but that there is great concern by the public about Bill C-51 and how it's trampling upon their rights and privacy rights?
It is a highly contentious bill which I think we should have spent more time debating in the chamber.
Also, each and every one of us received hundreds and hundreds of emails from people across Canada. Each of us has been targeted by the provinces or territories that we represent that we should stop passage of this bill. We have received hundreds if not over a thousand email messages from Canadians urging us to prevent this.
Even today, in the Toronto Star, Ed Broadbent wrote an article on Bill C-51 and I'm going to quote from it. Even today he's saying that Canadians should exhort us not to pass Bill C-51, that it is not too late and that we should continue to pressure for this bill not to be passed. He said:
At the onset of the debate former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow and I called on Parliament to reject the bill. We argued that C-51 threatened our civil rights, and placed the very protections guaranteed by the Charter under the shadow of wider powers to interfere with lawful and legitimate conduct. Further, we pointed out that the bill in itself did not protect us from terrorism. We recognized that terrorism demands a serious, sustained and effective response. The bill did not do this, but it does undermine the rights of Canadians.
That's Ed Broadbent speaking. He continued:
Vague definitions in the text of C-51 open up troubling questions with regard to who can be targeted, and what might be censored under the new bill. For example, the bill seeks to counter not only "terrorism" but what it describes broadly as "threats to the security of Canada." How broadly will "threats" to Canada's "security" be defined?
My colleague Senator Mitchell introduced amendments to the bill to address the concerns expressed to us by hundreds of Canadians about erosion of their Charter rights. He wants to amend clause 42 to prohibit any warranting that would break the Charter. This is an issue that is very important to Canadians and that's why they are continuing at this very moment to email us and to ask us to stop the bill.
In the testimony before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security on March 23, our former colleague, former Senator Hugh Segal, said:
Accountability on the part of our security services to the whole of Parliament is not needless red tape or excessive bureaucracy. In fact, it is the democratic countervail to the kind of red tape and bureaucracy which might unwittingly lose sight of the security mission appropriate to a parliamentary democracy, where laws and constitutional protections such as the presumption of innocence and due process must protect all citizens without regard to ethnicity or national origin.
That's particularly important because he's pointing out that we have Canadians who are minorities who may be targeted unfairly by this bill.
We all received a letter from the Civil Liberties Association, signed by Sukanya Pillay, Executive Director and General Counsel, which states:
There would be an exceptional increase in mass information sharing flow across governmental agencies and institutions, and with foreign powers and actors, without adherence to legal safeguard or accountability mechanisms, and without a demonstrable security benefit. Privacy rights would be severely undermined — all in the name of an extraordinarily broad description of "activities that undermine the security of Canada."
Again, it is referencing the fact that we do not have good definitions of what these activities that undermine the security of Canada could or will be.
In her speech yesterday, Senator Jaffer raised concerns about systemic discrimination. She said:
. . . we can no longer deny that for many Canadians discrimination in many forms has become part of everyday life. Our policy of multiculturalism is one of the most advanced in the world. Yet, simply including multiculturalism in our Charter is not enough. To combat systemic discrimination, the spirit of multiculturalism must run through every policy that we make. This includes how Canadians are policed.
As you know, colleagues, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released the summary of its final report on its work on Indian residential schools this week. The commission's report verifies the annual reports from Howard Sapers, Correctional Investigator. His reports document the shockingly high overrepresentation of Aboriginal peoples in federal prisons. This overrepresentation is one facet of systemic discrimination against Aboriginal people.
While Aboriginal people make up only 4 percent of the Canadian population as of February 2013, they made up 23 percent of the federal inmate population. Aboriginal women are even more overrepresented than Aboriginal men in the federal correctional system, representing 34 per cent of all federally sentenced women in Canada. These figures document the discrimination that occurs already within our criminal justice system toward Aboriginal people, let alone what might happen to them if we enact Bill C-51.
According to Justice Sinclair:
The causes of the over-incarceration of Aboriginal people are complex. The convictions of Aboriginal offenders frequently result from interplay of factors, including the intergenerational legacy of residential schools. Aboriginal overrepresentation in prison represents a systemic bias in the Canadian justice system.
Colleagues, systemic bias or racism is part of the culture of the justice system already. Already Aboriginal people are racially profiled. There is no doubt that under the provisions of Bill C-51 Aboriginal people will continue to be viewed unfairly compared to Euro Canadians. Systemic bias or racism towards Aboriginal people is part of Canadian culture. This week Justice Sinclair explained clearly why this is so. He said:
. . . at the same time that Aboriginal people were being demeaned in the schools and their culture and language were being taken away from them and they were being told that they were inferior, they were pagans, that they were heathens and savages and that they were unworthy of being respected — that very same message was being given to the non-Aboriginal children in the public schools as well. As a result, many generations of non-Aboriginal Canadians have had those perceptions of Aboriginal people "tainted."
Justice Sinclair is diplomatic. He used the word "tainted," where others would have said "racist."
Honourable senators, in my second reading speech I outlined how the RCMP are already targeting and monitoring Aboriginal protests and how, in their internal reports, the RCMP have taken what can be called a discriminatory or racist stance by prejudging Aboriginal protesters as violent or extremists.
The January 2014 internal RCMP report entitled Criminal Threats to the Canadian Petroleum Industry states that:
. . . extremists advocate the use of arson, firearms, and improvised explosive devices. And some factions . . . have aligned themselves with violent Aboriginal extremists.
They have said this when there is no evidence proving that that is true. It is a preconception, a prejudging.
This document and other documents reveal how easily Canadian authorities, such as the police, the RCMP and the security officials, assume the possibility of violence when it comes to monitoring First Nation demonstrators. First Nation demonstrators are seen in a light that they are more violent than they really are in the real world.
Given the lack of clear definitions within the bill of what is terrorism and what are protests, I think it is more than likely that Aboriginal people could easily fall under the net of being labelled terrorists, particularly when it comes to protests involved in things like pipelines, which could be considered critical infrastructure. The word "protest" is not defined within the bill. Protest is often a way by which all Canadians and Aboriginal Canadians try to assert their rights and try to convince people that their rights need to be recognized.
Aboriginal people, as well as hundreds of thousands of other Canadians, are concerned about Bill C-51 and about erosion of their rights, while Aboriginal people are concerned about erosion of their constitutionally protected Aboriginal and treaty rights. The National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde, has said he's worried about the unjust labelling of First Nation activists as terrorists. He said that Bill C-51 could potentially be used to further oppress defence of Aboriginal rights and titles. Similarly, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs believes that Bill C-51 directly violates the ability of indigenous peoples to exercise, assert and defend their constitutionally protected and judicially recognized indigenous title and rights to their respective territories.
Honourable senators, Senator Jaffer has told us that the committee did not hear from a single Muslim witness. The committee also did not hear from a single national or regional Aboriginal chief.
Senator Munson: What a shame.
Senator Dyck: They heard from Pamela Palmater. She's not a chief and not a leader. How can we pass this bill when the Aboriginal leaders have not had a chance to put their case forward as to how this bill will affect them? Chief Bellegarde may have been invited. Maybe he couldn't make the timeline. Why could we not wait until he could appear? Why could we not have a national or a regional Aboriginal leader speak?
Senator Fraser: All good questions.
Senator Munson: They do it for ministers.
Senator Dyck: Absolutely. They are sovereign nations. Their viewpoint should have been taken into consideration.
We all know that all Canadians are concerned about Bill C-51. It is on the news daily. We're getting emails daily, every minute, on our email system asking us to do our job as senators. Not calling a single Muslim witness and not calling recognized Aboriginal leaders, such as National Chief Bellegarde or Chief Phillip, shows that the committee did not do a thorough job, did not do a thorough review of the bill, because they should have appeared. It is just not right not to have them on the witness list.
The committee should have considered including an amendment that my colleague Senator Fraser put on the agenda yesterday, a non-derogation clause that would have protected the constitutionally recognized Aboriginal and treaty rights of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. It would not have taken away from the rest of the bill. That would have been the right thing to do. That was not done. We have the amendment to consider. It should be passed. Unless that is passed, I do not support this bill.