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National Security—Terrorism

Hon. Linda Frum: My question is for the government leader. Last Friday, York Regional Police arrested two men, a father and a son, in Richmond Hill for possession of explosive and hazardous materials and an explosive device. The arrests were made following information received from Canadian and U.S. border protection agencies. Minister Goodale was quick to say neither of these individuals were under investigation by border protection agencies and there is no connection to national security. Senator Harder, how can the minister be so sure that these individuals were not a threat to national security?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question. The Minister of Public Safety has an obligation, as the senator will know, to not only be the minister responsible for the agencies that provide security to Canadians, the police force, our intelligence and other services, to ensure that Canadians are appropriately informed when incidents like this occur. The minister is informed by the responsible officials and makes statements that can bring forth information transparently to the public.

Senator Frum: Senator Harder, you say it is transparent. However, you’ll recall that Minister Goodale was also quick to say that the individual who committed the atrocious Danforth mass shooting in July 2018 was not linked to terrorism, even if ISIS had claimed responsibility. We have since learned things were not quite so clear. The individual had, in fact, resided in Afghanistan and Pakistan and had suspicious online activities. How can we be sure that Minister Goodale is not trying once again to hide the true motives of the people involved?

Senator Harder: I thank the honourable senator for her question. Minister Goodale is an experienced and senior minister who takes his role very seriously and performs it admirably. I believe the minister conducts himself in an appropriate fashion to ensure both public awareness and public information is provided, yet that which is necessary for the security and ongoing surveillance of groups is undertaken with the appropriate oversight and protection. That is the role of the minister. He is performing it entirely in good faith.

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