UPDATE: MPs have voted in majority to limit the debate on C-22. The vote on the reporting stage – and thus the amendments proposed by the government – will take place tonight, Monday March 20th, around 7PM. We have updated this action so you can send a new message to your MP, urging them to reject the government’s proposed amendments to Bill C-22, which will weaken the oversight capabilities of the national security committee the bill proposes to create. Please send this new letter even if you already sent the previous one! Thank you!
On Monday, March 6, 2017, the federal government announced its amendments to Bill C-22, “An Act to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.” These amendments would effectively cancel all amendments proposed by the Public Safety House Committee – despite the fact that Liberal MPs make up the majority of the committee – and revert the bill to its original, highly inadequate and worrisome text. Read our analysis of Bill C-22.
We are deeply concerned that the government’s amendments will leave the National Security Committee of Parliamentarians incapable of accomplishing its important oversight work. Please take 2 minutes of your time and send a letter to your Member of Parliament urging them to reject the amendments proposed by the government, strengthen C-22, reform our review mechanisms, and ensure transparency and accountability for Canada’s national security apparatus.
Copy and paste our sample message below into your own email, add your views, and send it to your MP! Make sure to include your name and postal code at the bottom of the message.
Find your MP and their email address here.
|Dear Member of Parliament,
I am writing to you to express my great dismay over the federal government’s actions on Bill C-22, which would establish a National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. I encourage you to support the Public Safety Committee’s improvements to the bill, and to vote against the amendments being proposed by Minister Bardish Chagger.
The amendments that the government is proposing to the bill will seriously weaken the ability of the committee to carry out its work, and goes against the bipartisan solutions reached by the Public Safety Committee.
I also find it unacceptable that the government has moved to limit debate on such an important bill, especially considering that the Liberal MPs have strongly denounced such tactics when used by previous governments. The debate should have continued for as long as needed to reach a strong, bipartisan solution.
Like many Canadians, I believe that Canada’s national security agencies and policies must be accountable in their work and adhere to the values outlined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Key to ensuring this accountability is robust and in-depth oversight of Canada’s national security agencies and activities. The government’s announcement last summer of a Committee of Parliamentarians to oversee national security is a greatly welcomed step in that direction.
To accomplish its important work, however, members of this committee must have the power to investigate issues relevant to national security and have access to the information necessary to carrying out those investigations.
Minister Chagger’s proposed amendments to Bill C-22, though, would do the opposite, by giving Cabinet Ministers broad powers to limit what investigations can be carried out and limiting committee members’ access to important information needed to conduct their investigations.
Under these rules, how would Canadians have confidence that the committee will be able to fulfill its role?
The Minister’s amendments also don’t address the fact that the Prime Minister will have the power to vet committee reports before they are made public. This provision should be removed to ensure transparency. If not, the committee should at least be given the power to ask a judge to review the Prime Minister’s edits and settle any dispute on what should be made public.
More than a decade ago, the public found out about the tragedy of Maher Arar and other Canadians who faced torture and other abuses on the grounds of “national security.” At the time, a groundbreaking report from Justice Dennis O’Connor pointed out how we could improve transparency and accountability in national security. Since then, Canadians have been asking for parliamentary oversight as well as a strengthening of our national security review mechanisms.
Therefore, I ask you to vote against the government’s proposed amendments to the bill, push for the important proposals made by the Public Safety Committee to be integrated to Bill C-22, and to work towards the reform of our national security review mechanisms. Doing so will move Canada towards greater transparency and accountability.
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