OTTAWA – Official Opposition Public Safety critic, Tony Clement, tabled amendments today on the government`s Bill C-22, which proposes to implement a national security oversight committee made up of Parliamentarians.
“The government is intent upon proceeding with this committee, and it is incumbent upon the Official Opposition to make certain Bill C-22 has the legislative underpinning to function effectively, and does not become a waste of time and precious taxpayer resources,” said Clement.
The recent court ruling which found CSIS unlawfully retained metadata, the cases of Quebec journalists` phones being monitored, and the Privacy Commissioner expressing concern this week that other security agencies may be holding on to metadata, are recent examples where the new committee could play an important role, said Clement.
There are two main thrusts behind Clement’s amendments. First is making certain the committee`s composition is non-partisan, and its chair is elected and not appointed by the Prime Minister. The amendments also call for revisions to the severe limitations placed on information the committee can access, and ensuring transparent reporting to Canadians.
“We know the Prime Minister has already named a member of his caucus, MP David McGuinty, as the chair of this committee, even though the legislation has not passed. This is totally uncharacteristic with how committees have traditionally operated,” said Clement. “The government must also remove the multiple locking mechanisms entrenched in the Bill to keep this committee from doing its job effectively, otherwise it will have little purpose.”
Bill C-22 is currently being reviewed at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.