Madam Speaker, I am here today to speak on an NDP opposition day motion.
I am a little disappointed that this is what we have to do at this point. It is something that matters greatly to me. I am a member of the procedure and House affairs committee, and we have been working very hard and diligently for quite a while on the issue of foreign interference in our Canadian elections.
Here we are today, discussing this yet again. Hopefully we are going to get to a place where we really do what I think is fundamentally the most important, which is assure Canadians that our democracy is being cared for and that we should have trust in those systems that provide us with the ability to allow people to govern and be our voice for every region across Canada.
Today the NDP is asking for a few things. The first is that the independent special rapporteur, the Right Honourable David Johnston, step aside. I do not take this lightly. This is an unfortunate situation that we are in, and when I listen to some of the discussion and debate in this House, it is amplifying the reason that I think this is so important. The discussion is becoming about whether or not this human being is a good person or not a good person, when, really, the focus should be on whether Canadians have trust in our democratic institutions. Are they concerned and how do we address that in a meaningful way that makes Canadians feel heard and that feels transparent and accountable to them?
At this point, we are simply not in that position. In fact, the special rapporteur has lost that confidence across this country. We could blame the Conservatives for it. I have heard the Liberals do that. They have said it is the Conservatives' fault. We could spend a lot of time having that discussion. I hope we get to the next step of the conversation, which is our duty is to Canadians, and how we make sure that this process that happens assures Canadians to have faith in our systems.
Perception matters, and I think all of us know that. This really addresses this, it says there is a perception, we need to deal with it, and we need to make sure that we have a process that is accountable.
The second part of this is that the government launch a public inquiry into election interference by foreign governments. There are multiple countries of concern. I heard a question earlier today from a Liberal member who said this was a public inquiry and a lot of this was top secret information, and that we should not have a public inquiry because of this. There is a very long list of very important issues that were dealt with where there were aspects of those issues that were held in confidence. However, again, the process was clear enough that Canadians had trust that the people doing the work and seeing the information would report back to them in a way that they could have confidence and faith in.
We are also asking that the commissioner of the public inquiry be selected by all parties. One of the things that concerns me, it has concerned me in this House and it concerns me at the committee where we are studying foreign interference, is that these issues are becoming increasingly partisan. It is very unfortunate that we hear the Conservative leader keep talking about how everything is broken. I know Canadians. There are hard things that we are struggling with right now, but Canadians are not broken.
It is not us that make this country. It is Canadians, collectively, who make this country. There may be things that we do not like. There may be things that we are really concerned about, but I do not believe, in any way, that the Canadians of this country are broken.
We need to have a place where this is not partisan. That means we actually have to do the hard work of bringing in the agreement of all parties. I am willing to do that work, and I am certainly hoping that other members in this place are as well.
The next part is that the report on the public inquiry be tabled in this House before the next election. I have heard from the Conservatives “Let us bring it all down,” while we are debating whether it is safe to have an election or not. I do not know what is going to happen. At any point the Liberal government could make the decision to have an election. It has done it before. Other governments have done it prior to this.
We have to make sure that people have faith in these institutions so that when we do have elections, people feel they could go out and have their voices heard. We need to make sure that our processes are as safe as possible. The reality is, and I think we all know this, what is happening in terms of foreign interference in elections is changing. It is changing very rapidly, and we are having to respond to it at an accelerated pace. We need those processes in place to deal with this ever-changing issue, because if we do not, we are betraying the trust of Canadians.
It also calls on PROC to report to the House the terms of reference and a possible commissioner or a list of commissioners. I think that is great work for the committee to do, and we have to get focused on creating non-partisan solutions.
Democracy is more important than ever, especially when we are looking at the changing realities of this planet. It is a changing world, where we are seeing so much more misinformation. We are seeing an increase of divisive dialogue that is really bringing about a further distrust of our systems.
Collectively, we need to do things in this House that pull Canadians together, that bring them together. We need to say that we are going to focus on the outcome, which is making sure that our elections are safe and that, when there is foreign interference, our methods are accountable and transparent. This is what we need to do.
We are asking every party in this place to take that leadership. That is what we need to see. Canadians need to see collective leadership, a focus on bringing us together and creating solutions. I believe that this can be done only through a public inquiry.
Mr. Johnston wrote in his report that he could not support the idea of a recommendation around a public inquiry. I think that is really unfortunate and, at this point, there is so much concern about his capacity to do this job, regardless of who has made Canadians feel that way, that we have to bring this forward.
Today, in committee, Mr. Stanton, former executive manager of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and Mr. Wilczynski, former assistant deputy minister and director general of intelligence operations at the Communications Security Establishment, spoke about this issue. They said that they believe, fundamentally, that there needs to be a public inquiry. Mr. Stanton even said that if we had asked him a couple of months ago, he would have said there did not need to be one. However, at this point, the way this has happened, it is in a place where there absolutely needs to be an inquiry. I focus on their intentions and their expertise, and I think we also need to focus on that.
The trust that Canadians have in our democratic institutions matters. It should matter more than our partisan rhetoric. It should matter more than anything. Hopefully, people will take this seriously in this place and understand that, until we take this out of political partisanship, we are just in a place where we are debating opinions on things that are drip-dropping through the system, through the media. They are unclear. There is not enough information provided for clarity, and it makes Canadians not feel trust.
We have been studying this issue. I have heard very clearly that one of the things we need to do is update our legislation. We need a higher level of accountability, particularly in the role of the national security and intelligence advisory. What we heard, which was in that report as well, was that information was shared with different ministries; however, nobody knew how to open the email, so nothing got dealt with. We need more accountability, so things do not get lost.
It was quite shocking to read in Mr. Johnston's report that somebody may be sick one day, and they do not bring the binder to the appropriate person. That cannot be our system. Our system cannot hope that somebody knows a password or that somebody remembers to bring a binder. This is serious. This is about national security. It is about foreign interference in our elections.
We need a better system to let MPs know if they are being targeted by a foreign entity. We have had two points of privilege now that are talking about this information. What we know is that the system is simply not working, and we need to see that fixed.
We need to focus on diaspora communities. They need more protection. We have been hearing in committee about people who are being targeted by authoritarian governments across the planet, people who have families in different countries and people who are from those communities. They are going to their local police and RCMP and saying, “Please help. I am very concerned about this. This is what is happening to me.”
Unfortunately, we do not have anything strong enough to support those folks as they go through that situation. Often, they have a file number, but nobody ever gets back to them. That tells us the system is broken. It is not working. Canada is not broken. The people of Canada are not broken, but we do have systems with significant challenges that we need to address.
We can also look at things like disinformation. We know, for example, from a part of the world that I have been watching, which is Finland, that there is a lot of education on disinformation. This is not only in elementary school, middle school and high school but also into college and university. Even if someone is learning to be a carpenter, they are also learning how to develop a critical mind and understand disinformation. They have kids making fake videos so they can show just how realistic they look.
There are some amazing things out there that could really provide guidance for us. This is why we have put forward this motion. It is because we care about Canada. We care about the systems, and we care that Canadians have trust in our democratic institutions. I hope everybody will support this. It is certainly time for that to happen.