Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act

Hon. Peter Kent (for the Minister of Public Safety) Kent.P@parl.gc.ca 
 
moved that Bill C-35, An Act to deter terrorism, and to amend the State Immunity Act, be read a second time and referred to a committee. . .
 
Bill C-35, An Act to deter terrorism, and to amend the State Immunity Act, is a result of victims’ initiatives championed by an organization called the Canadian Coalition Against Terror, know by its acronym C-CAT, which represents Canadian terror victims. C-CAT has played a critical role in driving this bill forward. . .
 
The legislation before us today would provide the Government of Canada with another important tool to protect Canadians from acts of terrorism while ensuring that victims of these heinous acts have the chance to seek justice. Over the last few years, all of us have been witness to the horrible carnage that terrorism can and does leave in its wake. . .
 
[Translation]
 
Canada has been designated as a potential target for terrorist attacks by organizations like al-Qaeda. We have also seen the successful action taken against terrorists born or recruited in our country before they could execute their plans. We must not stick our heads in the sand and pretend that this country has no interest in participating in the worldwide fight on terrorism. We must continue to take concrete and decisive action. That is the reason for Bill C-35, An Act to deter terrorism, and to amend the State Immunity Act.
 
[English]
 
We need to take steps to prevent these acts from occurring in the first place, and when they do occur we need to ensure that victims’ voices are heard. That is what Bill C-35 is all about. . .
 
Hon. Irwin Cotler ( Mount Royal , Lib.): CotleI@parl.gc.ca 
 
Mr. Speaker, it has been said that the world changed on September 11. I do not know whether the world changed or whether a darker side of our universe was somehow exposed. However, what is clear is that September 11 was a transformative event, impacting on our psyches as well as on our politics, on our priorities as well as on our purposes. . .
 
Another measure is now before Parliament, the government’s Bill C-35, which has the potential to alter Canada ‘s approach to terrorism as well. However, I want to suggest that the private member’s bill that I introduced on behalf of my party is a more dramatic and correct approach in order to provide justice and redress by way of civil remedy to victims of terror while at the same time effectively deterring the states, perpetrators and sponsors of terrorism. . .
 
What I will seek to show is, while we both may have the same objectives in mind, regrettably, the Conservative legislation does not secure at the end of the day redress for victims of terror, nor does it deter the state perpetrators of terror because the listing framework set forth in the government’s legislation undermines the very objectives in the legislation itself, as I will show. . .
 
 
Mr. André Bellavance (Richmond-Arthabaska, BQ): BellaA@parl.gc.ca 
 
[Translation]
 
. . .Right now, the State Immunity Act prevents victims from suing states. The act gives foreign states jurisdictional immunity before Canadian courts and prevents anyone from suing foreign states in Canada , even for crimes recognized under international law. This jurisdictional immunity also applies in cases where the victim is Canadian, as in the cases of Zahra Kazemi, William Sampson and Maher Arar.
 
In criminal cases, the law currently permits legal action against foreign officials. Legal action may also be taken against agents of a foreign government for abuses perpetrated outside of Canada . However, both the victim and the perpetrator must hold Canadian citizenship when the crime is committed, or the perpetrator of the abuse or crime must be in Canada . Even so, criminal law does not provide for compensation for the victim. That is the current situation in Canada .
 
. . . the Bloc Québécois would like to examine Bill C-35 in committee. We have many questions about the bill, which contains several points that bother us. Nevertheless, like the rest of my party, I believe that it would only be right to examine it in committee to learn all its ins and outs. . .
 
Mr. Paul Dewar ( Ottawa Centre, NDP): DewarP@parl.gc.ca 
 
[English]

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-35.
 
We have heard interventions from the government, the Liberal Party and the Bloc. There seems to be consensus on some of the concerns that many of us have when it comes to Bill C-35, which I will get to.
 
There is a consensus also on the need to deal with the issue and the objective that the government has laid out and that we need to do something to address the grievances of victims due to terrorism. The question is not whether we should deal with that objective. It is how we deal with that objective.
 
The principle behind the bill is important. I think all parties want to find ways of addressing the concerns of victims, of what is political violence often.
 
New Democrats have always taken a strong stand against perpetrators of terror, torture and human rights abuses. For that reason, we will support sending the bill to committee for further study, and I will explain some of the rationale behind that.
 
At this point, we are not convinced the bill will achieve its stated purpose of preventing, and was mentioned by the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs for Americas when he tabled the bill, and deterring terrorism. . .