The House resumed from September 22 consideration of Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.
Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise again to take part in this debate on this important legislation. As members opposite would know, the legislation is intended very much to protect people, young people in particular, our most vulnerable; to protect seniors from online criminality and fraud that could defraud them of their life savings; to protect individuals from the security breaches and attacks that we know are happening regularly online.
The bill is about modernizing sections of the Criminal Code, respecting precedent, including recent Supreme Court decisions, and respecting the Constitution. However, it is about modernizing in a way that takes Criminal Code sections from the age of the rotary dial phone into the 21st century, the Internet age. We have more information available at our fingertips now and youth are more able to access information than at any other time in world history. Therefore, it stands to reason that we would want to bring legislation forward that would similarly modernize the Criminal Code and the rules that govern online criminal activity.
The bill is about amending the Criminal Code in a way that would create a new offence of the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. It would also update a number of offences and the investigative tools that allow police to use modern technology to police the Internet, so to speak, by amending other statutes such as the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.
Bill C-13 would also allow Canada to co-operate with like-minded countries in the investigation of cybercrime. I know my friend from Lévis—Bellechasse, the Minister of Public Safety, fully appreciates, from his daily interactions with police and investigators, that they need this capacity to protect people from online criminality. The portions of the bill that we are bringing forward are consistent, related, and support the common objective to give the police the ability to prevent online criminal acts.
Bill C-13 would also achieve these goals in a balanced way, something that was recognized by many of the witnesses who have already given testimony and appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, where the bill was thoroughly examined.
Following this review at the committee and to reflect concerns about the difficulty of forecasting the impact that these important changes to the law and the amendments that were adopted by the committee, this was done as part of the parliamentary process and in recognition of the contributions of members and witnesses. It was done in a way that proposes changes to Bill C-13.
An important change was that after seven years of coming into force, there will be a thorough review. This is not an uncommon provision, but when breaking new ground, as the bill would do, it provides sufficient time to lapse before we assess the implementation and the impacts of the reforms.
I mentioned that the thorough review of the bill by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights took place. This review involved 10 committee meetings, hours of examination, with appearances by over 40 witnesses. Many of the witnesses came to urge the committee to pass the legislation, to move forward and address the serious problems particularly around cyberbullying. We heard from people like Glen Canning, who tragically lost his daughter to a very pernicious and persistent act of cyberbullying. Therefore, there is urgency in bringing this legislative movement forward.
Those most passionate that we heard at the committee were victims, those who had felt the sting of the loss resulting from ongoing harassment and humiliation online. In several of the cases, the people who had lost loved ones because of this modern plague of cybercrime urged the government and committee members to move post-haste in getting these provisions to the Criminal Code in place.
The insidiousness of some of this behaviour is troubling in the extreme and what happens in the virtual world can have deadly consequences in the real world. While some witnesses expressed concern about the proposals, most witnesses saw the wisdom of the bill. They congratulated the government on taking action to address cybercrime, which, I am quick to add goes far beyond just the legislative initiatives.
We have put in place programs and assistance to help with getting information into schools and spreading the word, particularly to young people, about how they can get help and how they can help remove some of these offensive images that cause them such stress and anxiety. That type of information is very important, as well as the improvement and modernization of the investigative tools, which require judicial oversight and the authorization of a judge before that type of information is sought.
This is a comprehensive and balanced bill. It is about protecting the public through this new offence that is designed to address the aspects of cyberbullying. In particular, it is about modernizing existing offences and the investigative tool kit. It is very much there to give the police the ability to do in a virtual world what they do in the real world, and to seek out those who are causing this type of harm through the Internet.
The offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images prohibits the sharing of intimate photos or photos containing nudity without the consent of the individual shown in the photos.
It is important to respond in this manner to cyberbullying, which involves activities that can cruelly humiliate and shame its targets. It can cause irreparable emotional and psychological harm to the victim. There are far too many of these cases that we could enumerate here. Suffice it to say, the pain being felt and experienced by the families is unquantifiable. The anonymity of what happens online sometimes emboldens people and empowers some to act in a cruel and wicked fashion.
Bill C-13 would respond directly to recommendations that were made in a June 2013 federal, provincial and territorial report. Therefore, there is broad support and consensus among our provincial and territorial partners to move in this fashion. The report was unanimously supported by my predecessor, the Minister of Public Safety, as well as all of those provincial attorneys general and public safety ministers.
I also alluded to the committee, which heard from a number of victims of cyberbullying and sadly the parents of some deceased victims, many of whom have now become advocates for change to better address the scourge of cyberbullying. Most of these witnesses expressed strong and unconditional support for the proposals found in Bill C-13.
In particular, and his name has been mentioned previously, Mr. Glen Canning expressed serious concern to the committee about the challenge faced by police in responding to modern crime using outdated tools. He also expressed his belief that had Bill C-13 been law, it could have had a positive impact and might have saved his daughter, Rehtaeh Parsons.
These are compelling arguments to be made for passing the bill. Further delays would leave more people vulnerable, simply put, and online crime to go unchecked. The alarmist rhetoric and some of the partisan banter here is not going to change that. Moving the bill forward will in fact fill the gap.
I hope the House understands just how important the proposed legislation is. Our police need these modern tools for modern times. Criminals are certainly using the Internet to great effect, and it is time to fight back. Bill C-13 would give the police the means to investigate and hold offenders accountable online, just as in the real world. It would provide the police with increased, judicially authorized, 21st century police tools and techniques.
I urge all members to support the bill. It is a balanced, necessary approach to putting in place offences and investigative tools that would provide the means to respond to criminal law challenges in this century and those that arise from cyberbullying.
Mr. David Wilks (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-13, the protecting Canadians from online crime act, now that it has been reported back to the House by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
Without the provisions contained in Bill C-13, there would be no tool in the Criminal Code to enable the preservation of computer data and ensure important evidence would not deleted prematurely. In addition, without these provisions, there would be no tool designed for the production of specific types of data such as transmission data. Nor would there be a tool to assist in tracking a communication by using one order that could be served on multiple providers when it was revealed that the person under investigation was hopping from one hiding place to the next, from one server provider to the next, simply to cover his or her tracks. Bill C-13 would bring the kind of balance Canadians expect from a 21st century system of justice.
I want to address some basic principles so everyone understands what is at stake.
The new preservation tools are crucial. With regard to the storage of data, Canada's telecommunications industry is, in many ways, unregulated. We do not have laws for mandatory data retention, contrary to what exists in the European Union, and many Canadians believe we should not have such laws. Bill C-13 does not change that.
There are a number of providers with a variety of business practices. This is not a criticism of those practices. There are many reasons why data should be deleted. Some of those reasons have to do with privacy, but not all of them. Sometimes it is cheaper. Sometimes it is just the way technology is designed. However, sometimes these circumstances are consciously exploited by criminals trying to hide their trail and get away with their crimes.
The creation of the preservation tools reflects the diversity of legitimate business practices and acknowledges the fact that the industry is not required to retain data. However, we must understand the consequences of our choices. This also means that vital data could be deleted before production orders could be obtained from a judge enabling that data to be disclosed.
Preservation demands and preservation orders act as the first step in a lawful investigation. These tools ensure the data at least exists long enough for a judge to assess the evidence brought before him or her and determine if it should be disclosed to the police so it could assist in an investigation and eventually be brought forward in open court.
Let us consider the next step: the production of evidence. The new production orders provide the necessary set of investigational powers that enable a judge to grant specific types of data as specified in the order, which could be obtained by the police. This is another aspect that has not been understood in the media or by some witnesses who appeared before the committee. The new tools are not about disclosing data in general. It may be easy to grasp that these provisions would give law enforcement the specific tools it needs in the modern world of computers and complex telecommunications. However, there is another side to it.
The provisions in Bill C-13 ensure that a judge is aware of precisely what type of data is being sought by the police in relation to a specific investigation. This is quite unique. Most countries around the world do not provide their judges with this ability to carefully consider the circumstances and to uphold the rights and freedoms of the people and their jurisdiction by granting the authorities access to only one sort of data and not another. If the police do not need access to every kind of data, why should that be permissible?
These new tools make clear that police forces can obtain what is needed, but not more. If they can convince the judge that they need access to a particular type of data in order to assist in the investigation, then the judge can empower them to obtain that data from a service provider, but only that type of data, not every type of data that the service provider might have. This type of precision, this new approach, increases accountability, transparency and privacy protection. It is a new model for our new high tech reality. It is the right balance of freedom and protection for Canadians.
These are not simple issues and they do not deserve to be dismissed by misguided motions to delete vital provisions from Bill C-13. We must begin to understand that in a complex telecommunications network, where the Internet enables mobile phones, laptops and tablets to send data through the air in the blink of an eye, there are different types of data going through the network, data which can have diverse characteristics. We need different tools for those different types of data. The warrant for a tracking device and the warrant for a transmission data recorder are examples of those kinds of tools. They are crucial tools to combatting cyberbullying and online crime in general.
The current dial number recorder provisions in the Criminal Code were put in place when most Canadians did not have a cellphone and were not surfing the web. This is not the kind of technology that police face today when conducting criminal investigations.
The new transmission data recorder provisions can be used for collecting data from both telephones and the Internet. We all know that in today's world, a cellphone can be used to place a call, surf the web, or send a text message or a digital photograph. The transmission data recorder reflects this reality. It is not restricted to one type of data from one type of device. Again, a much more cautious approach has been taken than headlines would have one believe.
We must look carefully at the details. The new provision is important because it establishes appropriate safeguards. The transmission data recorder may be a mouthful to say and it may be difficult to understand some of the technological wording, but basically it is about the data that devices send to each other to connect into the network.
There are many different bits of data that could fall under the definition of transmission data, making a long, complicated list looking daunting. However, there are three things to remember.
First, police officers have to get approval from a judge. They must present evidence to a judge in order to use a transmission data recorder.
Second, the transmission data recorder is basically about mapping networks. It is about identifying devices and messages. It is not focused on identifying an individual person. That means it is not centred on the sort of attribution that was the focus of the Supreme Court of Canada's recent decision in Spencer in June 2014.
Third, and this is absolutely important, the police cannot use this provision to intercept what people say or text to each other or the digital photos that they send. The provision is crystal clear about this. It specifically states that it cannot be used to collect content. That means the transmission data recorder cannot be used to intercept voice. It cannot be used to collect text messages. It cannot be used to read the content of emails. It cannot even be used to read the subject line of an email. It cannot be used to collect a digital photo. To do that sort of thing would be to conduct an interception. To conduct an interception, the police would need a full-blown wiretap authorization, and that is the way it should be.
The police need the right tools, but Canadians need their privacy protected. Bill C-13 would strike the balance.
The warrants for the tracking device and the transmission data recorder not only improve police capabilities, but also strengthen the privacy protections for Canadians generally by ensuring that judicial standards are respected for different types of data.
Let us use another example to make that clear. The amended tracking order provisions distinguish between tracking things and tracking people. Now the existing provisions in the Criminal Code do not make the distinction. Therefore, if the police were tracking a package, like a drug shipment, that is one thing. However, if the police are trying to track a person, using a device usually carried or worn by the person, the new provision demands that the police meet a higher threshold of proof. The police must bring more compelling evidence before a judge, before that judge would permit a tracking warrant to be used to follow a person's movements. That is the way it should be.
The new provisions enhance privacy protections above the old provisions in the Criminal Code. The old tool is not good enough in today's society. The new provisions strike the balance between law enforcement needs and privacy protections.
I call upon all members to give their full support to Bill C-13 to ensure its swift passage.
Hon. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this bill, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act, and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.
The title is cited as “protecting Canadians from online crime act”, and I have to say at the beginning that I am constantly bothered by the way the government names its bills.
The naming of the bill goes to the heart of the way the government operates in titling its various legislation. There is a lot of spin and a certain amount of deception, because this bill would not actually protect Canadians from online crime in any discernible way. It would provide investigative tools to police and new offences, but all this assumed conduct would be in progress or would have already occurred; it would not be prevented by this legislation.
It has to be said, in fairness to the government, there is some preventive aspect in the fear of the penalties among people who would do these kinds of things. However, as is so often the case with the Conservatives, the title is exaggerated and, I would say, deceptive. Members have heard me say a number of times in this House that we have now had eight years of deception from the current government.
The principal incentive behind this legislation has been the growing problem of cyberbullying, which has led to some tragic consequences. There is no question cyberbullying is a scourge on our society and that cyberbullying is a particular strain on our young people. We could go through all kinds of cases of that, and other speakers have. The Liberals are supportive in principle of legislative measures that would provide law enforcement with additional tools to combat cyberbullying. This is an area where the Criminal Code urgently needs to be updated to reflect the realities of modern technologies.
We believe, however, that legislative measures alone, while helpful, are insufficient to combat cyberbullying, and we urge the government to commit to a broader, more holistic strategy to deal with cyberbullying that also includes public awareness resources for parents, kids, and the general public.
The Liberals introduced cyberbullying legislation in the last session that would have modified some Criminal Code offences to cover modern technology, as is done in Bill C-13. The Conservative members and the New Democrats voted against that legislative measure in the last session.
The Liberals, while in government, also introduced legislation that would have addressed new technologies back in 2005. The current government is only now figuring out that police need these tools to keep up with technologies that are increasingly a part of today's crime.
We believe that a balance must be struck between civil liberties and public safety, particularly when it comes to warrants that may be intrusive and overly broad. We do not support the measures that were in Bill C-30, the previous bill, which even the Conservatives had to withdraw because of Canadian outrage. Sadly, some of this bill duplicates the rejected Bill C-30, such as word-for-word reproductions of the change to subsection 487.3(1) of the Criminal Code and, except for one word, the changes to sections 492.1 and 492.2 regarding warrants.
We are very concerned about efforts to reintroduce “lawful access”, which the Conservatives promised was dead. Why the current government continues to tag on measures that push the envelope, so to speak, on privacy issues makes no sense to me. The immediate issue is important and cannot be lost, so we feel we have to support it, but why do the Conservatives play politics with everything, using cyberbullying to get what they wanted in the old Bill C-30?
My colleague, the member for Charlottetown, raised a question in the House in which he asked the minister to split the bill, but that was refused. That would have made a lot of sense, in that both aspects of the bill could have been studied in their own right and the cyberbullying aspect of the bill could have been dealt with very rapidly.
This omnibus bill touches upon everything from terrorism to telemarketing to cable stealing to hate speech, and in some parts is an affront to both democracy and the legislative process.
In particular, the bill resurrects elements of the old Bill C-30, Vic Toews' famous “either stand with us or with the child pornographers” bill when he was the previous justice minister. Many in this House will remember that.
The past justice minister, now the Minister of National Defence, promised Canadians on February 11, 2013, while killing Bill C-30:
|| We will not be proceeding with Bill C-30 and any attempts that we will continue to have to modernize the Criminal Code will not contain the measures contained in C-30, including the warrantless mandatory disclosure of basic subscriber information or the requirement for telecommunications service providers to build intercept capability within their systems.
He went on to say:
|| We've listened to the concerns of Canadians who have been very clear on this and responding to that.
I heard what the previous speaker said, and he dealt with this issue somewhat. However, there is a real question in this legislation as to whether the minister's words hold true or not. Again, it goes to the heart of why the bill was not split so that both aspects could be dealt with appropriately.
We must ensure that adequate protections are included in the bill to protect the civil liberties and privacy interests of ordinary Canadians. We are very concerned that with this omnibus bill, under the guise of cyberbullying prevention, the government is slipping things through the back door.
Ultimately, while we agree the Criminal Code must be updated to keep pace with technology, the hodgepodge bundling of bills is highly problematic. Some of it, such as the changes to the hate speech provisions and the introduction of the cable stealing offence, has been presented without any explanation of why the modifications are being made and without making any rational connection to cyberbullying.
We agree with the need to address cyberbullying and support the creation of a new offence for the unwanted distribution of intimate images. We also agree that some of the Criminal Code sections being modified are woefully out of date and must be amended to better reflect modern technology.
We strongly disagree, however, with the use of omnibus legislation that precludes nuanced discussion and debate on disparate issues. Moreover, we strongly disagree with the reintroduction of the universally panned legislation on lawful access from the old Bill C-30.
In short, we believe the provisions of the bill would unnecessarily infringe the civil liberties and privacy interests of Canadians. While we support this legislation, we want to place on the record that, as has happened in the past with the government's so-called crime agenda, the courts could ultimately find that many of the provisions of Bill C-13 would be illegal.
It would have served the government and Canadians well had the government accepted some of the concerns that were raised, allowed some amendments at committee, and, most notably, accepted the demand by my colleague, the member for Charlottetown, to split the bill, with the cyberbullying elements contained in a stand-alone bill rather than in what we are now debating.
Mr. Mike Wallace (Burlington, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak to Bill C-13.
I will put my speech aside, because I want to respond to the accusations just made by the member opposite. I am actually the chair of the justice committee, and as chair, part of my responsibility is to make sure that everyone gets a fair opportunity to be heard. I think members of the committee work very well together, to be perfectly honest.
The way it has worked and will continue to work at committee is that each party is able to submit the names of witnesses they would like to hear from. Based on the numbers we get, we ask members to prioritize who they would like to hear from, because time may run out.
If I recall correctly, there was no set time for this particular bill. If the committee did not hear from certain segments, it was because those witnesses were not recommended or brought forward. The committee did not call those witnesses not because the government was trying to do something inappropriate but because the witnesses were not asked for. The government cannot be blamed for not calling witnesses who were not asked for.
Conservatives had an opportunity to ask for witnesses. New Democrats asked for witnesses and the Liberals asked for witnesses. I take some offence that the member said this was not done appropriately. It was absolutely done appropriately. It was done in this committee in dealing with Bill C-13 and is done for all other legislation that comes to the committee.
I think the committee is operating well, and everyone has an opportunity to have their say. If parties, including my own, want to hear from witnesses, they can put them on the list. There will be a discussion as to how many meetings there will be on it, and then we will hear from those witnesses. That is how it has worked and will continue to work as long as I am in the chair. We will see if that continues.
I also want to respond to the issue of splitting this omnibus bill. I have the bill in front of me. It is in French and English, as all bills are. It is 53 pages long, plus 12 pages of explanatory notes. It is not a very big bill. If members can read it in both languages, that is great, but let us assume that most read in one language or the other. That would make it about 25 or 26 pages long. It did not need to be split, in my view. I think there is lots of opportunity to talk about all the issues. It is not a very difficult bill to grasp. I think someone could read it in a few hours.
There are a number of issues in the bill, but the process at committee did not limit members to talking about just certain parts of the bill. Members could have brought forward witnesses and we could have had a discussion, which we did, on all parts of that bill. I have to take some offence on the issue of what happened.
As we know, as the minister and the previous speaker on this side have pointed out, the bill would do a number of things, but in general, it would create a new offence for the distribution of non-consensual pictures on the Internet.
I did not know how big a problem it was, to be perfectly honest. I had not really experienced it in my office or had anyone come to see me. I took the opportunity to ask my daughters, who just graduated and are in university now. They were able to illustrate to me a number of actual cases, in their own high school, of young women who had had photos taken of them that were then posted on different people's sites as revenge or cyberbullying. This was a surprise to me.
That does not make the news. What makes the news is when it goes too far and the bullying is so egregious that someone, unfortunately, takes his or her life. Then it makes big news. This is a problem that is happening every day in every community across this country, so we needed to act.
There was mention of the previous legislation that was brought forward in Bill C-30, and appropriately so. The government recognized that there were some issues that needed to be dealt with, so we brought it back, took it off the table, and redid the bill.
We made changes based on the public and the response in this House in terms of the changes that needed to be made. I believe that those were made. Do we get credit as a government for making those changes? No, and the previous speaker criticized us, saying that we did not do it right in the first place.
I am sure that opposition members believe that they are perfect, and maybe even some of us think we are perfect on this side, but let us be honest. We had a bill in front of us, we recognized that there were some issues, we took it back, and we made changes and improvements. We addressed those problems and brought something back that we could all pass.
I am not sure what the NDP are doing. I heard from the last speaker that the Liberals are supporting the bill going forward, and I appreciate that.
I do not think as a government that we should be criticized for hearing the concerns and then making changes. I will agree that there were a number of amendments put forward, 30-some amendments, and one, on a review period, did pass, which I personally supported. I do not vote on the committee as the chair, but I do support that.
As we all know, it takes some time for legislation, especially with the Criminal Code, to get through the system, get in place, and get tested in practice. I think it will take some time before this piece of legislation is tested, and that length of time for the review is appropriate.
The other issue we heard a lot about was that the bill would give the police a lot more power than they already have. I think the issue on Bill C-30 was that it looked like the police could do things without a warrant. Well, this bill would clearly resolve that issue, in my view.
Bill C-13 clearly indicates that for preservation orders and for the police to be able to do their jobs in terms of attacking the problem of cyberbullying in particular cases, they need judicial support to move forward.
I think it is important to give the police those tools. In this electronic environment of the Internet, things move so fast, on or off, we need to be able to do that.
We experience that around here all the time. If a member of Parliament makes a mistake or does something on the Internet, and somebody catches it, a few hours later, if not less, it is gone. We have all experienced that in this House with members of Parliament doing things on electronic systems.
When it is a criminal activity, we need to have the police able to go after it quickly. We need to give them those tools to make that happen. I am very supportive of the opportunity for the police to be able to do their work.
We have been asked as a government to do something about the cyberbullying problem. This is not an easy area to legislate. We cannot legislate cyberbullying to stop. It is not that easy. I appreciate that we have looked at opportunities and issues in terms of addressing cyberbullying through our legal system, which is what this bill would do.
Bill C-13 would give the police better tools to track and trace telecommunications. It would streamline the process of obtaining multiple warrants so that the police could execute their jobs.
The witnesses we saw whose families were affected by cyberbullying were fully supportive of what we were doing. I want every member of this House to think about that. If it was their son or daughter whose photo was online and who was being bullied, would they want the police to be able to act to resolve the issue and have a penalty for cyberbullying? I believe the answer is yes, and it is yes for the vast majority of Canadians. That is why we need to support Bill C-13.
Ms. Charmaine Borg (Terrebonne—Blainville, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, since I do not have a lot of time, I will get straight to the point.
Cyberbullying is an extremely important issue and the NDP wants to do something about it. We suggested splitting the bill in order to pass this part quickly. I want to reiterate that, because it seems that the members across the way are under the impression that this issue is not important to us. That is not true.
We are deeply concerned about the fact that the government is in the process of creating an entirely new system to gain access to personal information. I heard Conservative members say that this will change nothing when it comes to accessing personal information, but that is not true. Providing protection to Internet service providers who voluntarily comply with a request and hand over information, or who do so on their own initiative, is extremely problematic.
We have the Supreme Court's ruling in the Spencer case before us. We have not really had the chance to hear what the government has to say about this. We do not even know whether this bill is constitutional. I am not sure. Some telecommunications companies, such as Telus and Rogers, have even said that they no longer respond to requests from government agencies because they now believe it is not constitutional. Why can the government not open its eyes and realize that such things as an IP address do indeed constitute personal information?
As the court stated in its ruling, you need a warrant to obtain this information. There have been decisions against creating an entire system, a back door, for calling a telecommunications company to obtain personal information. I believe that the government has a duty to consider this before simply cutting off debate and quickly moving to a vote.
I would like to add that we are constantly being told that these requests are made in exceptional circumstances. That is not true. We saw that the Canada Border Services Agency made more than 13,000 requests in one year. Only two of these requests were listed as being required for national security reasons. I am sorry, but their argument does not hold water.
Furthermore, we were told that these requests are transparent and subject to review. However, there is no transparency. There is absolutely no oversight. When I asked the government in writing for the data for the past 10 years from all agencies, it did not have the data. The government has no record of the requests. How can we have a transparent system without even having the necessary data?