Saturday, April 25, 2015

Randall Garrison (NDP) Questions for Blaney, MacKay at C-51 Hearings

Today I'm going to look at the questions for minister's Blaney and MacKay provided by the NDP's Randall Garrison.
    Thanks to all the witnesses who are here today. I know for the Minister of Justice it's relatively rare to appear in this committee, so I give particular thanks to him for being here today. I want to start with a question for him.

    There has a been a lot of public concern expressed by legal experts, including former judges, about the broad nature of the new offence in the Criminal Code, about the lower threshold for detention and peace bonds, and about fundamental changes to information sharing that might affect privacy rights.
    My assumption is that the minister would not bring this legislation before Parliament if he did not believe it was constitutional and that he must have received advice from his officials on the constitutionality of this bill and its provisions. 
If I could interrupt here. It seems to me most likely that Mr. Garrison is being sarcastic. The harpercons have a long history of deliberately ramming-through unconstitutional legislation. They do this because they hate the Charter and because they imagine it makes the Supreme Court look bad in the eyes of the harpercons' deluded followers. Things have, if anything, gotten more extreme since 2012 when Justice Department senior lawyer Edgar Schmidt sued them for ordering him and his fellow lawyers to deliberately violate their obligations. [In December 2012, Edgar Schmidt sued the federal government for failing to take adequate steps to verify whether proposed bills violate the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. According to Schmidt, the Department of Justice “had its lawyers apply only a flawed and minimal screening test. It does not identify and report on legislation that the department itself considers almost certainly to be illegal and unconstitutional.” After the court case was launched, Schmidt was suspended without pay for “violating his duties as a lawyer and public servant.” ] I assume Garrison knows this.

    Would the minister be prepared to table the advice he received on the constitutionality of this bill? It would be very useful for this committee, to avoid further legal entanglements down the road, if we could have that advice tabled for us so that we could use it before we reach the amendment stage of this bill.
Can't wait to read MacKay's reply ...

     Thank you very much for the question, Mr. Garrison.

    Colleagues, while it may be rare that I appear before this committee, this is my 52nd appearance before a committee as a minister.
    The member is absolutely right in suggesting that we would not have introduced a bill, and certainly from a justice perspective no bill is introduced in Parliament unless it has been drafted and presented to Parliament in a way that is consistent with the charter and the Constitution. Every bill receives that vetting, that lens, from the Department of Justice prior to its introduction. 

Koff! Bullshit! Koff!

Officials with the Department of Justice, of course, have expertise in that area. In fact, some members of our department go back to the drafting of the charter itself. We have tremendous legal advice, which is available to all departments. So, yes, the member is correct. I would have met with and worked with my department to ensure charter compliance. The Supreme Court of Canada, of course, has recognized that the prevention of terrorist acts is a valid state objective given the grave damage that can result, and that was the quote I presented to you at the close of my remarks.

This could have been a simple "Yes" or "No" reply.  Can you table the advice you got from your lawyers or not?

This is not to say that legislation—all legislation—presented to this committee or any committee is not subject to charter challenge. We anticipate and look at various aspects, including privacy, to come back to the member's question, and we do so to ensure that ultimately the courts will pronounce favourably on the charter compliance. With regard to presenting that advice to this committee or any committee, I'm not able to do so as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General as solicitor-client privilege exists between the Department of Justice and the Department of Public Safety in this case.

So, after all that bullshit, to run out the clock, MacKay answers that he just can't share his department's legal advice with the people's representatives. Supposedly he, as justice minister, and Blaney, as public safety minister, can never get together and agree to provide the Public Safety and National Security Committee with the legal reasoning that shows how this bill conforms with the Charter.
Typical slimy cowardice from MacKay. 

    Of course, as the beneficiary of that solicitor-client privilege, you could waive that and table it before this committee.

    We're not going to do that, and of course the privilege rests not solely with me but with the entire government.
Say no more. If there's anyone more cowardly and secretive than MacKay, it's stephen "captain closet" harper.
    Thank you very much. I still believe we would benefit from having that information before us.
    I want to turn to Mr. Blaney, who said he would welcome the opportunity to clarify things today. I have two questions about the new powers given to CSIS in this bill. The minister has said many times in public and in the House that the new disruptive powers of CSIS would require a warrant from a judge. I would like him to clarify, because according to my reading of the bill, as well as that of many others, it does not say that. It says that disruptive activities may be conducted and will require a warrant only in certain circumstances. I'd like him to clarify that part.
    The second thing he said was that very often this amounts to judicial oversight. Since the warrant being sought is for activities conducted in secret and not for those leading to a criminal charge, how will the judge ever see what happened with that warrant again? How would that warrant ever end up back before the courts so they could exercise oversight? I don't see any provision there, once the warrant is granted, that would allow a judge to examine what had happened with that warrant.

    I have to say, just briefly, that when Mr. Blaney says that the NDP is attacking police and CSIS members, we're not. We're saying that occasionally agencies make errors and they end up before the courts. We have the Mosley case, which clearly said that CSIS had, in some cases, made errors that constituted a violation of the law.
    My question is very specific. Does disruptive activity always require a warrant, and how will that warrant ever get back in front of a judge?
I wouldn't have defended myself against Blaney's whining accusations. The more we coddle thugs, the more thuggish they become. Some members of CSIS and the RCMP are incompetent, racist, sexist, authoritarian, murderous goons. To even go through the motions of defending oneself against "anti-cop" bias only encourages them in their foulness. When they are racist, call them on it. When they murder someone, call them on it. When they ship people off to be tortured, call them on it. Pussy-footing around with your criticisms only puts off the day when reality will be squarely confronted.

    Thank you for your question. You certainly heard me again this morning clearly say that a warrant is required every time there is a legal consideration. I'll just refer to what I said earlier this morning.

    My remarks were as follows: “With this new mandate, Bill C-51 sets rigorous limits and establishes a warrant mechanism...If the measures proposed might contravene a right guaranteed by the charter or another Canadian law, a Federal Court judge would have to authorize them in advance.”
    Simply put, a warrant is indeed required under Bill C-51 every time the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is concerned.

    I hope I provided a clear answer to your first question.
     No, you haven't clarified that because you just proved my point. You said it's required only if there's going to be breaking of the law of the charter. Other disruptive activities then are clearly authorized without a warrant.

    Yes, dear colleague, some activities will not require a warrant. However, threat reduction activities must follow a rigorous process depending on their impact. As the Minister of Public Safety, I will be able to—just like my successors—authorize warrants at some point. To do so, I will rely on the opinion of the Department of Public Safety.

    Let me give you an example of a case where a warrant would not be required. For instance, CSIS officers could engage in conversation with the parents of a child who is being radicalized. In that case, a warrant would not be required. 

    Thank you very much. The time is up.
    We will go to Mr. Norlock, please, sir.
Well, that was pretty much a waste of time. No answer to the question of subsequent judicial oversight, when the boys in Red Serge have a documented history of lying to judges about what they're going to do with the warrants they receive.
We shouldn't have tolerated the stolen 2011 federal election, or the Elections Canada cover-up. But we did. And this is the price we pay for our laziness, cowardice and delusion. 

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