The House resumed from November 27 consideration of the motion that 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, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Robert Chisholm (Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and finish my intervention on Bill C-13 which is an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act, and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.
I want to talk for a couple of moments about some of what I said yesterday.
Bill C-13 was introduced with some considerable fanfare. Provisions in it would close the gap in the Criminal Code to make the non-consensual distribution of intimate images an offence and would deal with the definition of malicious intent.
This is a topic that the official opposition tried to deal with when we brought in a private member's bill, Bill C-540, in the spring, and subsequently encouraged the government at every opportunity to recognize the tragedies that were taking place out there as people of all ages, mostly women, had acts of violence being committed upon them. Whether it is called revenge porn or otherwise, people—sometimes partners, sometimes others—with malicious intent and with violent intent were distributing intimate images of those individuals.
I spoke to a situation in my riding involving 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons, who took her own life as a result of the situation she was involved in. She was allegedly raped, and the images of that were subsequently transmitted widely on the Internet.
I want to speak to that for a second. That young woman took her life because she believed that the worldwide distribution of those intimate images of her by her friends, by members of her community, and by others had sufficiently destroyed her reputation that she felt she had no way out.
Frankly, it is intolerable that the system was unable to support her. Her community, her schools, and the institutions and support services of the greater community of the Halifax regional municipality were unable to support her. As a result of that, the Province of Nova Scotia moved to make some changes, and I will speak to that in a moment.
Suffice it to say that the bill is extremely important for what it does in this regard. As I said yesterday, it is my belief and the belief of many on this side that had the government done what we tried to do with Bill C-540, which was to bring in a piece of legislation that was directly targeted toward the act of cyberbullying, then it would be unanimously approved by members of the House. We would move it to committee. We would hear from families, from people affected, and from experts, and we would deal with the matter and change the law. We would get it enacted and change it.
What the government has decided to do is to tie questions about the extension of its powers of surveillance to the bill. Many people, both in this country and beyond, have indicated that they have some concerns with that, and likely it will result in extensive discussion and conversation.
I want to add that dealing with bullying and cyberbullying means much more than just changing the law. We need to engage in national strategies. We need to provide supports. Whether through education or through health services, mental health and otherwise, we need to make sure that there is a plan, that there is a strategy for educating and supporting people to make sure not only that people realize that bullying and cyberbullying are wrong but that the supports are there for the victim.
We will be supporting this bill moving forward to second reading, but I urge the government to consider our motion to split the bill.
Mr. John Carmichael (Don Valley West, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-13, the protecting Canadians from online crime act.
The legislation would make Canada a safer place by closing the gaps in criminal law by providing police officers with the tools they need to properly investigate crimes in the age of Internet communications. If I may, I would like to spend my time today talking about the elements of Bill C-13, which deal with the new and updated investigative tools that the legislation would provide to the police.
I would like to emphasize that nothing in the bill creates authority for warrantless access to personal information. This is my first point because I want to make it clear that proposals for access to subscriber information from former Bill C-30 the protecting children from Internet predators act, which were so controversial and so very unpopular, are not included in this legislation.
Bill C-13 and its proposals to modernize investigative tools for police, represent a giant leap forward for Canadian police by giving them tools for modern technology and investigations. These are the same tools our international partners have been using for years. These new investigative powers not only provide police with the judicially authorized tools they need to collect evidence in a modern telecommunications environment, they also take into account advances in technology and the potential impacts they have on the privacy of Canadians. In other words, they give police the tools they need to effectively investigate today's crimes, while ensuring the privacy of Canadians is properly considered.
I do not think it is an overstatement to say that technology has fundamentally changed the way we communicate with each other. The possibilities and opportunities that new technologies open up for us are nothing short of incredible. However, with the great potential comes great risk. The Internet and other new technologies allow criminals to commit identity theft in Switzerland, while sitting in a cafe in Halifax. It has also facilitated the explosive growth of sexual exploitation offences, such as the distribution of child pornography. As we have recently seen, it can provide an online forum for criminal harassment and extortion two criminal forms of cyberbullying.
An important consideration for the legislation before us is that technology has changed the type of evidence left behind after a crime has been committed. Scotland Yard estimates that over 80% of all crimes, whether a fraud committed over the Internet or an assault in a bar, have some form of telecommunications evidence associated with them.
The legislative proposals in the bill will not only assist police in investigating online crime, but also all crimes that involve electronic devices.
The guiding principle for the bill was to ensure that the Internet and other new communications technologies did not create a safe haven for activities that were otherwise unlawful. To prevent this from happening, Bill C-13 proposes to amend a number of existing offences in the Criminal Code to ensure that the Internet and other modes of communications are covered. For example, proposed amendments to subsection 372.3 of the Criminal Code with respect to harassing telephone calls will not only modernize the language of that provision, but also make it applicable in some cyberbullying situations.
Because so many of today's crimes are being committed online and using Internet-based technologies, we must ensure that our investigative tools are designed with this technological environment in mind.
Another important element of Bill C-13 is the proposal to update the existing production order scheme. A production order is a judicially authorized order that requires a third party to provide police with documents containing information connected to an investigation. There are currently two types of production orders in the Criminal Code: those relating to financial information and those relating to any other type of data that might be needed to conduct an investigation.
Often the requirements of an investigation are quite targeted. In those cases it makes sense to create specific tools that are designed to obtain specific types of data that also reflects the expectation of privacy associated with that kind of data.
As such, the bill proposes to retain the two existing production orders already found in the Criminal Code, but it also proposes three more to deal with the specific types of data associated with modern technology. These would include judicially authorized production orders for the following: first, data related to the dialing, routing, addressing or signalling of telecommunications, which would be known as transmission data; two, data relating to the whereabouts of a person, transaction or thing, which would be called tracking data; and third, data relating to the tracing of specified communications.
This last type of production order is particularly important, as it would allow police, for example, to trace the origin of an email, which would be extremely useful for identifying someone who is engaging in cyberbullying, specifically criminally harassing an individual, but has used several IP addresses to conceal his or her identity.
As I mentioned earlier, some of the proposals reflect the impact on personal privacy that advances in technology have brought. Police have been able to get judicial warrants to track individuals or things for 20 years now. As we can imagine, technology has changed a lot in that time. Where we were once able to track people with only limited accuracy, there are now technologies, like GPS, that can track the location of a person with much greater precision.
To take account of this, the bill proposes to increase the threshold necessary to get a tracking warrant in order to track an individual. Specifically, the police would now need to demonstrate that they have reasonable grounds to believe, as opposed to reasonable grounds to suspect, that an individual has or will be committed and that tracking an individual's movement will assist in the investigation of that offence.
The existing lower threshold warrant will still be retained for tracking things such as vehicles. We believe the new amendment regarding individuals is a significant privacy enhancement. This dual approach will allow police to retain the efficiency of the lower threshold warrant for tracking things, while increasing the privacy protection in situations of tracking individuals where there are greater privacy interests at play. This is an example of what we call privacy with precision.
The bill proposes to create some new tools designed to respond to the special demands of the digital environment, the preservation demand and the preservation order. These new tools would provide for a quick freeze of data. They would ensure that a person or business preserves a specific set of data long enough for a police officer to get a judicial warrant or order to obtain that data. Let me be clear, that preservation would not be confused with the types of data retention schemes we see in other places around the globe.
The bill does not ask a company to collect everyone's information and keep it on hand indefinitely or for a certain length of time. That is data retention and the bill is not proposing data retention. Rather, this proposed amendment addresses the highly perishable nature of digital information.
For example, a company might be required to preserve data related to a specific transaction that it would normally keep in order to further an investigation of identity theft. This data would be preserved only for a limited amount of time in relation to a specific investigation.
This kind of tool is essential to our ability to conduct effective investigations in an era where crucial evidence can be deleted in the blink of an eye. The preservation demand and preservation order will give police enough time to go to a judge and get the warrants or orders they need to subsequently obtain this highly volatile evidence.
Before I conclude my remarks, I would like to point out that one of the common myths I have heard opposition members and media alike talk about is that Bill C-13 would make it illegal to steal a cable signal. The fact is, it is already illegal to steal cable signals. This behaviour is prohibited by sections 326 and 327 of the Criminal Code. It is a type of theft.
The amendments proposed in Bill C-13 to these long-standing offences will update the telecommunication language to expand the conduct that it covers making it consistent with other offences. For example, it will add imports or “makes available” to the prohibited content in section 327.
The bill would also make section 327 a hybrid dual procedure offence, which would give prosecutors more discretion in their charging practices depending on the seriousness of the offence.
Further, the amendments proposed to repeal the definition of telecommunications found in section 326 and the criminal law will rely instead on the statutory definition of telecommunications in the Interpretation Act. This is not a substantive change.
In conclusion, I would like to add that the government undertook extensive consultations with stakeholders from industry, police and privacy advocates across the country in developing these amendments. With their input, this bill achieves the right balance between promoting safety and security and protecting the rights of all Canadians.
I hope all members appreciate the importance of this bill. Our police need modern tools for modern times. Bill C-13 would provide them with just that.
I have heard encouraging words from all sides of the House on this important debate and I urge all hon. members to give the bill their full support.
Ms. Ève Péclet (La Pointe-de-l'Île, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, it is very important for me to rise today in the House to speak to Bill C-13.
Before I begin my argument, I think it essential to show the government how ready the NDP is to work with it. I will simply lay the foundation for my argument, so that it is not misinterpreted by some people in the House who unfortunately tend to turn our words around and throw them back at us.
I am very disappointed. I think of myself as still being young. I hope that I am still young. Not so long ago, I too was in school and was a victim of bullying. I think it is extremely important to demonstrate that a parliament wants to help people. As I have said many times, the role of a parliament and a government is to give a voice to people who are too weak to defend themselves or who unfortunately have not had the same opportunities as others to be able to feel equal and face difficult times in their life. All of us have gone through adolescence. Some adults are also sometimes victims of bullying.
First of all, we were all on the same wavelength when my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour introduced his Bill C-540, because we had learned of a number of young teenagers who unfortunately had decided to take their own lives. Perhaps they were thinking they had no other way out. Today it is our role to reach out a hand to young people and to provide the resources needed by those who can help these young people see the light at the end of the tunnel, get through a difficult period and become accomplished and fulfilled adults, like all of us.
As some members have mentioned in their speeches, it is a great pity, because the government decided to vote against our bill, which had exactly the same purpose and objectives as the cyberbullying provisions in Bill C-13, which the government now wants to pass.
Why did they stand in opposition to our bill? We will probably never have an answer, but that is okay. The government has its prerogatives. What is more, this is a majority government. It wanted the privilege of introducing this sort of legislation. I understand. It has its prerogatives.
However, given the fact that this is such an important issue that affects so many people, it is regrettable that the Conservatives decided, as usual, to present us with a bill at least 50 pages in length, where only the first five talk about cyberbullying—and that is a considerably rounded figure so as to give them a little leeway—while the other 50 talk about totally different things that have no tangible connection to cyberbullying. That is why the government chose to move from a bill on cyberbullying to a bill whose title contains the words “from online crime”.
As I said, and this is precisely why I wanted to make the basis of my argument clear right from the beginning, cyberbullying is a problem, and we as legislators have a duty to pass laws to protect young Canadians.
Notwithstanding the respect I owe the government, my argument will unfortunately have to identify certain shortcomings and certain problems in this bill that the government says is intended to address cyberbullying. I would like the people watching today to know that we have asked the government to divide the bill so that the provisions on cyberbullying can be given expeditious examination. Indeed, as many of my colleagues have said, we are all in agreement. That way, we could demonstrate to Canadians that we are prepared, as parliamentarians, to work together to pass positive legislation that will have a tangible impact on the lives of young Canadians.
With the other 50 pages of this bill, which deal with subjects as broad as terrorism, banking services, telecommunications services and so on, we could make a second bill. We could study it in depth, with the experts and the institutions, to know exactly where we are going. In this way we could amend and modernize Canada’s criminal legislation, but—and I emphasize this—still respect our institutions, Parliament and, above all, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Unfortunately, the Conservatives always try to use wedge issues to force their bills down the opposition's throat. They use extremely sensitive issues in order to usher in by the back door bills that would require us to put on our legislator's hat and address these provisions in a logical and informed manner, in committee of course.
I would like to drawn the hon. members’ attention to three little points before beginning to address the government’s shortcomings and missteps in this matter. For example, on cyberbullying, the Criminal Code has to be modernized. We have to ensure that future victims will be protected. As my colleague from Gatineau was saying, the parents of certain victims have said that, yes, this bill might have helped or even saved their child. No one in the House will say otherwise. The cyberbullying provisions need to be passed as quickly as possible.
On the other hand, it is important to remember that the government stated in its throne speech that it intended to invest in addressing bullying. Bill C-13 was probably part of the first step in that direction, but here we are talking about long-term prevention. However the government voted against our motion to have Parliament consider the issue of bullying in order to adopt a national strategy for helping the people on the ground who must be able to support young people going through a difficult period. Unfortunately, as I have said, the government voted against that motion.
Bill C-13 is a step in the right direction, and we thank the government for having taken the demands of Canadians and Canadian families seriously. However, why did the government vote against a motion that did not require it to do anything, not even to pass a bill? That motion called on Parliament to consider ways of preventing bullying.
I would really like to put the emphasis on prevention. I have a report that was produced by a youth round table. These are young people between the ages of 12 and 17 in Pointe-aux-Trembles, in east Montreal, in my riding.
This round table considered the issue of youth felt to be at risk of joining street gangs or criminal organizations.
The report says that 50% of youth at risk of joining a street gang or a criminal organization said they had been victims of violence. It also says that bullying is the form of violence most cited in the open question asked of the group of young people most at risk, followed by physical violence and verbal abuse. Bullying is therefore the main source of violence among these young people. The report also cites feelings of depression.
It is important to mention that the government's bill includes clauses on cyberbullying. However those clauses cover only offences of a sexual nature. They refer to the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
I do not want my remarks to be misinterpreted. This is a good thing, except that certain cases, such as situations where people receive repeated hate messages, are not covered in the bill’s clauses on cyberbullying.
I understand that this is a step in the right direction, but if the government truly intends to prevent bullying and to help workers on the ground prevent bullying among young people, these things have to be considered here. A national anti-bullying strategy is extremely important. That is what the people on the ground are saying.
I have a report that concerns only my riding of La Pointe-de-l'Île. However I am fairly certain that the situation is the same in every riding. The people on the ground need a strategy, money and assistance. Therefore, if the government truly intends to help victims of bullying, I hope that Bill C-13 is just a first step in the right direction. This is extremely important.
With regard to the example I was giving of a person receiving text messages, emails and so on, I hope that all of these elements will be considered by the government in the context of an even more general approach to the prevention of bullying.
The minister has rightly expressed his interest in this type of case. He is concerned about the problem of bullying. I sincerely hope that he is listening to my speech today and taking note of what I have said.
It is very important to mention that we really would have liked to see the minister decide to split the bill in two.
We always have to put on our legislator's hat in opposition because the Conservatives unfortunately decide to disregard their responsibilities and we have to point out to them certain deficiencies in their bills.
I really find that unfortunate because we know that several bills have been, or will be, challenged in the courts. It is important for the Conservatives to realize that we must listen to Canadians and to victims.
I want no one to misinterpret my comments, but at same time we have to tell ourselves that the legislation we pass here has an impact on everyone across Canada. It is important to debate here and to have experts testify in committee so that we can pass the best legislation for our fellow citizens.
I would like to mention that my colleague from British Columbia introduced Bill C-279. It is very important and I hope the minister will take note of it. That bill is currently before the Senate.
Clause 12 of Bill C-13 amends the list of groups in the Criminal Code section on hate crimes.
It is important to understand that gender identity is not included in Bill C-13. Consequently, there may be a contradiction between two acts. Bill C-279 has been passed by Parliament and is currently before the Senate. That is why the bill must be divided. Some problems absolutely must be examined in depth. It is unfortunate that the victims of bullying and their families have to wait longer than they should for us to legislate on cyberbullying. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have decided to use this problem as a way to pass an omnibus bill.
Now I will talk about the bad aspects of the bill. We must put on our legislator's hat and clearly assess the problems the committee will have to face. Clause 20 of the bill concerns new procedures for obtaining warrants. As the minister said, the provisions are subject to the judge's interpretation. A warrant is therefore needed. However, it targets metadata. Based on the language the minister uses in the bill, the threshold for obtaining warrants that target metadata is lower. We are talking here about “reasonable grounds to suspect”, not “reasonable and probable grounds”. This will have to be examined with the bar associations and with the experts to determine the language that should be used in the bill so that all warrants are subject to the same burden of proof in the courts.
The bill encourages telecommunications businesses and Internet service providers to respond, without a court order, to requests for information concerning their customers and grants them criminal and civil immunity should they decide to grant those requests. It is extremely important to say that most people agree that the first part of the bill, which concerns cyberbullying, is good. It is really unfortunate that the Conservatives decided to include all kinds of different provisions.
I spoke about terrorism in particular. Why does the bill concern terrorism when we are talking about cyberbullying? Several questions have been raised about companies and the provision of user data to police. I think we really need to ask the experts, such as the Privacy Commissioner, to write a report on the bill. We really must put the necessary tools in place so that authorities are able to enforce the law since the framework of the bill calls for that. It is very important to do that based on expertise specific to the various acts, such as the Competition Act, for example.
I am really pleased to have had a chance to speak to the bill. I can hardly wait for my colleagues' questions.
Ms. Charmaine Borg (Terrebonne—Blainville, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and take part in this debate today.
As all members of this House will agree, cyberbullying is an extremely disturbing phenomenon. When I heard the stories of Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons in the media, I was truly saddened to learn what they had to go through and the pain they had to suffer, which unfortunately led them to suicide.
We have talked at length about Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons, of course, but I want to emphasize that many young people whom we will never hear about have also been victims of cyberbullying and have unfortunately decided to commit suicide as result of this scourge. It is extremely important that we work together as parliamentarians and do everything we can to find solutions to this absolutely appalling phenomenon.
Bullying is obviously nothing new. People have been talking about it for a long time, particularly in the schools, and I myself was bullied when I was young. However, bullying has changed with new technologies.
New technologies afford excellent opportunities. They enable people to learn quickly, to share stories and to socialize without even knowing the other person. Unfortunately, they also make it possible, for example, to distribute pictures of a person against that person's wishes, especially pictures that can harm the person, as in the cases of Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons.
Another aspect of cyberbullying underscores how important it is to take action. Bullying used to occur more in school environments, among a group of friends, but young people were safe when they got home to a no-bullying zone. In the case of cyberbullying, that no-bullying zone unfortunately no longer exists now that there are social media.
Now, when young people get home from school, they open Facebook, Twitter or whatever social medium they may use, and they can see negative comments or photographs published without their consent. Amanda Todd changed schools several times in an attempt to start over. Unfortunately, when photographs are posted on the Internet, they stay there forever. You can never completely delete what is posted there.
That is why one part of this bill is important, and I do mean one part. Only four pages of this 53-page bill address cyberbullying.
I am going to take the time to congratulate my colleagues from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour and Chicoutimi—Le Fjord for raising these issues in the House of Commons. I know that much of what my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour proposed wound up in this bill. I am really proud of that because this is an extremely important issue.
The bill will create a provision on cyberbullying stating that:
|| Everyone who knowingly publishes, distributes, transmits, sells, makes available or advertises an intimate image of a person knowing that the person depicted in the image did not give their consent to that conduct, or being reckless as to whether or not that person gave their consent to that conduct, is guilty…
This provision is extremely important. I am convinced that every member of the House of Commons would vote now to pass it at all three readings in order to bring it into force.
The problem is that this issue has unfortunately been used. There are four pages on cyberbullying. What did the government do? It included about 50 pages on lawful access in a bill about cyberbullying. There is no connection.
The police admittedly need certain powers to act in such cases, but lawful access could have been treated as a separate issue, particularly when the bill talks about, for example, terrorism and software that has no bearing on the provision. Thus, everyone who distributes, transmits, sells or makes available an intimate image of a person is guilty of an offence. That has no bearing.
I am extremely concerned about the fact that cyberbullying has been used in order to propose provisions that, as everyone knows, have been highly controversial.
I have to say, all the same, that I am happy that the Conservatives did listen a little. This happened thanks to the work of the whole community of people concerned about protecting privacy and all those who stood up to combat measures that were going to make it possible to disseminate personal data without a warrant and require Internet service providers to set up an entire infrastructure for online snooping.
I am happy that these measures are not contained in Bill C-13. However, there are other measures that are very worrying. What is most disturbing is that tragic stories about cyberbullying, like the cases of Rehtaeh Parsons, Amanda Todd and all the other young victims of cyberbullying, have been used in order to introduce measures respecting lawful access. It has no connection and merits a separate debate.
I would prefer that we speak today strictly about cyberbullying, because it is so important.
I would like to use the 20 minutes of speaking time allowed me to talk exclusively about cyberbullying. I am obliged, however, to talk about all the other controversial and disturbing measures relating to lawful access.
A motion was moved to divide the bill, so that we could talk strictly about cyberbullying and thus expedite consideration of that portion of the bill.
Unfortunately, the Conservatives refused. They wanted to use cyberbullying to push through a range of provisions respecting online access that threaten the protection of privacy. The victims deserve a separate debate. They really do deserve it, and so do the families. We should debate cyberbullying alone, and not lawful access.
For lack of co-operation from the Conservatives, however, I will talk about lawful access. As the NDP critic on digital issues, I have done a great deal of work on this one. I have consulted people all across Canada concerning the protection of privacy and lawful access. I asked them where the limit lay as far as they were concerned, and what they found disturbing.
Four aspects are particularly troubling and they are of great concern to those who are worried about protecting privacy. I, too, am concerned about them. I believe that they deserve the full attention of the committee that studies this bill.
First of all, this bill, which is supposed to deal solely with cyberbulling, lowers the threshold for obtaining personal information. I am talking about metadata, transmission data and tracking data. I have often heard people say that metadata do not really provide any information.
I want to explain what metadata include. They include information provided by an email or telephone call: location, time, person contacted and search history. Metadata can provide plenty of information.
It seems to me that the whole debate around metadata and all of the information that can be gleaned from them really began in the United States, particularly with all of Mr. Snowden's revelations.
There is a new threshold. We have moved from “reasonable grounds to suspect” to “reasonable grounds to believe”. The threshold is being lowered, which creates a very disturbing precedent. When that threshold is lowered, we leave the door open to potential abuses of privacy.
This bill, which is supposed to deal solely with cyberbulling, goes on to include a provision encouraging Internet service providers to hand over personal information to authorities. In return, they cannot be criminally prosecuted.
I am not naive; I know that this is already happening. I know that there are Internet service providers who are sometimes handing over data that could be useful in criminal investigations. It is already happening, but right now Internet service providers are supposed to consider what might happen to them if they hand over that information. It may not be a good idea to provide it. They need to ask themselves those questions; they need to think about it before they hand over personal information, and that is what they do.
By removing the need for this sober thought prior to the sharing of data, the government is essentially opening the door to the sharing of personal information. It is creating and promoting a system that works completely outside any judicial oversight, a system that sidesteps all parliamentary oversight, and a system that excludes nearly every authority that should have the right to look into these activities.
Obviously, Internet service providers are not supposed to be spies. They are supposed to be people who give us access to the Internet, period. However, more and more, Internet service providers are being used to obtain information without judicial or parliamentary oversight. I find this extremely problematic, especially as we know, from a story published in the Globe and Mail, that spectrum licences require Internet service providers to build infrastructure specifically designed to store the personal data of the company's users or customers.
When such a provision is added to this infrastructure, we basically have an online spying system free of any oversight. I find this very problematic, and I think most Canadians will find it problematic as well, especially after hearing about the U.S. scandal and the American people's surprise at learning what was going on with Verizon, the NSA and PRISM. The government is recreating a very similar system in a bill that is supposed to address only cyberbullying.
I have a big problem with this provision, and I hope the government will seriously consider it before sending the bill to the next stage. I would ask all members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to study this provision and fully understand what they are opening the door to. Indeed, this is very serious and creates an ominous precedent.
This bill also criminalizes software that can be used to access telecommunications infrastructure such as Internet services or television. That is good. Canadians must not be encouraged to steal cable programming.
However, not everything is black and white. Many software packages permit access to another computer, but for legitimate reasons. For example, there is software that permits access to another computer to verify its security or to repair it. Other software allows a person to create an internal network with two or three friends. Basically, this provides access to another computer, but not for criminal reasons or to steal from the Internet or from cable. It is for legitimate reasons.
I think that this requires a lot of study to identify the possible negative repercussions of this sort of clause, because as I was saying, it is not black and white. We cannot say that all software allowing access to another computer should be criminalized. We cannot think like that. We have to think of all the possible repercussions of this sort of clause.
There is another point deserving of more in-depth study that might raise some concerns. That is prohibiting certain people from using the Internet. I can understand the logic. However, is it really possible to ban someone from using a computer? Computers and the Internet are everywhere. I think that this may cause problems of compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is really important to establish whether this clause is realistic and what its charter repercussions would be.
I have spoken about the importance of the Internet in our lives. Its possibilities are endless. We can communicate, participate in democracy, buy things online and take part in a whole digital economy. However, when we start opening the door to provisions that allow potential abuses of privacy, we are jeopardizing everything that the Internet is supposed to be.
We are putting at risk people who might want to use the Internet to challenge the government or its choices and policies. We are putting the Internet at risk as a free and open medium. With regard to Internet surveillance and online spying—no matter what we call it—we cannot allow our Internet to be destroyed by these sorts of provisions. It is extremely important that privacy remain paramount in Canada. This is entrenched in section 8 of our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is paramount that this right always be respected.
I hope that everyone on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights will assess all of the provisions I spoke about so that they truly understand the repercussions of this bill before moving forward. That said, I want to reiterate that cyberbullying is an extremely important issue, and we should really be dealing with it specifically. That is what the victims deserve.
Everyone here agrees that that part of the bill should be fast-tracked. I think it is really unfortunate that the government has taken a cyberbullying bill and included 50 pages on lawful access, which has nothing to do with protecting our youth.
Mr. Fin Donnelly (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.
I rise today to speak to 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. I thank the Minister of Justice for introducing this long-awaited bill, which was tabled just last week.
I followed yesterday's debate in the House closely, as there are many aspects of the bill to study. The bill primarily seeks to address the issue of cyberbullying.
As we all know, cyberbullying is having devastating effects, particularly on young people. It is something we all agree must be addressed and eliminated. The tragic stories of Amanda Todd, Rehtaeh Parsons, Todd Loik and others have spurred a national discussion on how society must do a better job of working together to address bullying, harassment and other heinous acts. These acts can take place in public places like schools or the workplace, but they can also take place online through social media sites, apps, et cetera.
Regardless of where bullying and harassment takes place, proper tools are needed to address these very serious acts. Eliminating cyberbullying is a complex task, requiring a multi-faceted approach. It means giving police the tools they need to properly investigate cases and bring forward charges as needed. It means having resources and education tools available and accessible to youth, as well as their parents.
Yesterday I participated in a Twitter town hall meeting in Coquitlam to talk about crime. We talked about cyberbullying and the need for a holistic approach. It is clear to me we need a collaborative and well thought out strategy to address how bullying happens, how it affects people, how we can deal with it and how we can try to eliminate it.
Parliament has debated this before. Last year, the NDP put forward a proposal to strike an all-party committee to study and craft a national anti-bullying strategy. Unfortunately, the government voted down the motion. However, I believe the motion generated a lot of debate, which is healthy and crucial for a democracy. I have no doubt that part of the solution of cyberbullying lies in modernizing the Criminal Code to ensure it reflects the realities of crimes and how they are committed today.
The same was required for child luring laws. I proposed two private member's bills to close loopholes in the Criminal Code. The bills would have ensured prosecution of child predators was not hindered by whether a child was lured online instead of in person, or if the luring was inside or outside of Canada's borders. My work on the bills has shown me that as legislators we must look at how the Criminal Code is working in today's digital era and make improvements as needed.
Earlier this year, I seconded legislation put forward by my colleague, the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, which, like the legislation before us today, would criminalize the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. Bill C-540 was introduced in Parliament earlier this year. It is quite a simple, straightforward, one-page bill. With consent from the government, the bill could have moved forward before the House rose in June. When I first looked at Bill C-13, the government's legislation before us today, I was pleased to see that the contents of Bill C-540 were included in the bill.
However, there is much more in Bill C-13 that must be looked at. It contains dozens of clauses, of which only a handful directly relate to cyberbullying. Many clauses were adopted from the failed Bill C-30, known as the protecting children from Internet predators act. Bill C-30 was also widely associated with comments made by the former Conservative public safety minister, who had the gall to accuse opposition members of supporting child pornographers when they raised questions about the bill's scope. The bill was not just rejected by the opposition, it was widely rejected by privacy advocates and the public, forcing the Conservatives to back away from the bill earlier this year. I cannot recall another time when the government received such scathing criticism of a bill that it realized the error of its ways and was forced to abandon the bill.
Needless to say, when I learned that a number of clauses from failed Bill C-30 would be included in the cyberbullying bill before us today, I was very concerned. While Bill C-13 targets cyberbullying, it also goes after other issues, such as banks' financial data, the terrorist financing act, telemarketing, and the theft of telecommunication services.
The minister has assured us that prior judicial authorization is required in every single clause of the bill and that there is no ability for police to act without warrants here. However, lawful access provisions require close scrutiny. This is a complex, lengthy bill that requires careful study at committee.
As I mentioned before, only a few pages of this 70-page omnibus-style bill are directly related to cyberbullying. Yesterday the NDP proposed what I think is a very smart legislative solution. Our justice critic proposed splitting this bill in two. The cyberbullying provisions would be removed from Bill C-13 and put into a separate bill that could be expedited through the legislative process. In this way, the justice committee could take the appropriate amount of time to study other provisions contained in Bill C-13. I am disappointed that the Conservatives rejected this very logical proposal.
I intend to support Bill C-13 at second reading. I believe it deserves to be carefully studied at committee.
As I have outlined in my remarks today, cyberbullying is a very distressing problem. By making it illegal to distribute intimate images of people without their consent, we give police and the courts another tool to go after those who attack and victimize others online.
The other provisions in this bill require careful scrutiny. I am hopeful that members of the justice committee will be given adequate time to study this bill thoroughly.
In closing, I would like to say a few words on a more personal note. I want to acknowledge the courage and perseverance of the parents of Amanda Todd, Rehtaeh Parsons, and others. In the wake of the tragedy of losing a child, they have spoken out publicly and have asked hard questions of us as a society. They are driving a national debate on how we must do a better job protecting young people from online crime. I believe that their work will spare other young people and their families from enduring pain, suffering, and tragedy resulting from such terrible unchecked acts as cyberbullying.
In my riding of New Westminster—Coquitlam and in Port Moody, the story of Amanda Todd has resonated with parents, children, educators, policy-makers, city officials, the police, and so many others. In fact, it has resonated not only across the country but around the world. Although Amanda will never know the legacy she left, her heartbreaking final words will forever haunt us and remind us that we must do a better job.
Ms. Mylène Freeman (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I want to start my remarks on Bill C-13 by congratulating my many colleagues who work tirelessly for justice, the protection of all Canadians and respect for their rights and for individuals. It is truly high time for us to better protect ourselves from the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
We are all shocked and saddened, and were truly heart-broken at the highly publicized suicides of teenagers who were victims of cyberbullying, including Rehtaeh Parsons, in Nova Scotia, Amanda Todd, in British Columbia, and so many others. We must prevent such tragedies from happening again, because these young girls are not the only ones to have been bullied.
Youth between 12 and 14 are most likely to be victims of cyberbullying, which can seriously affect their mental health and well-being.
According to recent studies, cyberbullying has an adverse effect on the social and emotional aspects of a young person's life and on their ability to learn. These young people suffer from anxiety, shorter attention spans, lower marks at school, feelings of despair and isolation, depression and even suicidal tendencies, as in these well-known cases, unfortunately.
I want to acknowledge that my colleague, the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, brought attention to the issue of bullying in the House with his motion to create a national bullying prevention strategy. I want to thank him for taking that initiative. His hard work to fight any form of bullying is truly admirable.
Earlier this year, the NDP member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour introduced a bill to make the non-consensual distribution of sexually explicit images an offence.
Unfortunately, instead of setting partisanship aside and expediting passage of these measures, the Conservatives refused to act on the motion and bill brought forward by my colleagues and waited until it suited them to introduce Bill C-13, a bill that contains a number of provisions that have nothing to do with cyberbullying and provides nothing meaningful for its prevention.
I would like to thank the NDP justice critic, my colleague from Gatineau, for the hard work she has done on this issue. She moved that Bill C-13 be divided in order to remove the parts of the bill that do not pertain to cyberbullying and address them in another debate. She moved for the bill to be split so that the provisions related to the non-consensual distribution of intimate images could be passed quickly since everyone in the House agrees on them. This would have allowed the other provisions, which were previously set out in the now-defunct Bill C-30, to be carefully examined separately in committee.
This would have allowed us to deal with the provisions of the bill that are not related to this very sensitive issue separately. That is what we must do in order to have a healthy debate on this subject, since the Conservatives are trying to include provisions on telemarketing and other things in a bill on cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is a very important issue, and we need to deal with it.
For example, I would like to share with the House what Ann Cavoukian, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, had to say on this subject. She said:
|| We can all agree that cyberbullying is an issue that needs immediate attention but it is very troubling to see the government once again trying to enact new surveillance powers under the guise of protecting children. Regrettably, the federal government is using this pressing social issue as an opportunity to resurrect much of its former surveillance legislation, Bill C-30.
It is important to remember the work of my colleague, the hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville, who fought hard against Bill C-30, which was a direct attack on the freedoms of Canadians and their right to privacy.
I am certain that she will ensure that the Conservatives are held accountable when the committee examines this bill, which unfortunately contains provisions that have nothing to do with cyberbullying and are of concern to many people in the digital community.
Bill C-13 covers much more ground than Bill C-540, which was introduced by my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. Along the way, it addresses many other issues, such as the financial data of banks, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, telemarketing and the theft of a communication service. It also includes some of the provisions of Bill C-30.
The New Democrats, privacy advocates and the public rejected Bill C-30, forcing the Conservatives to abandon it earlier this year and to promise that the Criminal Code would be modernized and would not include the measures contained in Bill C-30.
Now, privacy advocates are criticizing the provisions in Bill C-13 on lawful access to personal information and stressing the need to implement measures to protect Canadians' right to privacy against abuse. They say that certain specific provisions must be examined more closely, especially clause 20, which deals with the new procedures for obtaining a warrant.
The NDP proposes that the two very different parts of the bill be separated. It is clear that the Conservative government is just playing politics to pass its controversial provisions, under the guise of doing something for our youth. At the very least, we should carefully study this bill in committee, to ensure that it will provide police with the tools they need to protect our youth and to answer important questions about the other provisions included in the bill.
I will take this opportunity to talk about what the youth centre workers in my riding know well. They know this issue very well because they too often come face to face with problems that many people would rather not see. These workers are role models and friends to the young people who so desperately need them. They are on the front lines in their work with young people. I think we have to take their views into consideration. Here is what one worker at the youth centre in Saint-Canut, in my riding, had to say about cyberbullying.
She told me that a number of young people were victims and that very few resources were available to fight against cyberbullying. She finds it hard to control this type of bullying because everything happens so fast on social networks, bullies can remain anonymous and it is everywhere.
At her youth centre there is zero tolerance. If the computers at the youth centre are used inappropriately, there are consequences. She said that it was important for them to make their teenagers aware of the repercussions that this could have and to educate them in order to prevent cyberbullying. This is about confidentiality on the Internet and being careful about the comments and photos we post.
They encourage young people to file a complaint if there are abuses, but often, unfortunately, the police do not have the resources or the time to deal with this type of problem. According to her, it would be better if the complaints were taken seriously and processed as quickly as possible. Young people who commit this type of bullying have to know that there will be consequences for their actions even from behind their computer screen. She thinks it would be important to give police officers what they need to be quick and effective. The sense of anonymity and of not being able to get caught makes young people believe that they can do whatever they want on the Internet. That is what she told me.
Prevention, raising awareness among young people and giving police forces and youth case workers the necessary resources are key to fighting cyberbullying, in addition to the provisions contained in the first part of Bill C-13, the part that truly deals with cyberbullying.
This would help reinforce the legal framework. Nonetheless, it is a national strategy, like the one proposed by my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, which might have an impact on the other aspects.
I gather from this debate and the information from young people and stakeholders in my riding that some of the pages of this bill will help in the fight against cyberbullying. However, prevention and awareness raising are even more pressing.
This bill incorporates a patchwork of measures on telemarketing, theft of telecommunication services, and terrorist activities. These are direct descendants of measures in Bill C-30, the infamous bill the Conservatives had to go back on.
In closing, it is important to move forward in the fight against cyberbullying. As my two colleagues who spoke before me said, the NDP will be very active and very vigilant on this file.
Mr. Andrew Cash (Davenport, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, as usual it is a deep honour to rise in the House on behalf of the constituents in my riding of Davenport in the great city of Toronto on a piece of legislation that strikes to the heart of families right across the country.
As many of my colleagues have already said here today, witnessing the profound courage and commitment of both the Parsons and Todd families through this incredibly difficult chapter in their lives has been something that I think all Canadians have noticed and learned from.
I think when Canadians are faced with something of this magnitude that touches all of us in the way that this does, they rightly expect that we here park some of our partisan instincts and deal with the situation at hand.
One of the ways a majority Parliament can sometimes work is when members on the opposite side and the opposition present bills that really do connect with an important issue right across the country and that pretty much everyone here in this place agrees with. Sure enough, from time to time, the government adopts those ideas. I think it is fair to say that while we work toward being on that side of the aisle and having that party on this side of the aisle, in the meantime, we find ways once in a while to advance issues that we can all agree on, and I think this was one of those issues.
My colleague for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour tabled a piece of legislation in which we sought all-party unanimous consent, but we did not get it. That is one thing, but to have the government come back with a very similar bill is something altogether different. We can support that, but as usual with the Conservative government, it cannot resist its inclination to play politics with every issue. Every issue for the current government becomes a wedge issue and an opportunity to fundraise and hector the opposition.
We saw this with Bill C-30, the widely discredited online spying bill that the government presented. The minister in charge of it at the time badgered the opposition, and in fact, all Canadians who happened to disagree with his perspective and the wide breadth of the bill by saying that if one did not support Bill C-30, one stood with the child pornographers, which was an absolutely outrageous comment and effectively killed the bill.
The government also eventually declared that Bill C-30 was not going to come back. There were too many questions, not the least of which were the outrageous comments from the lead minister. There were also too many questions around privacy and civil liberties. We need to be clear that the foundation of a liberal democracy is the protection of civil liberties.
We see that in the bill we could have just dealt with the cyberbullying. I am sure members opposite on the government side would probably prefer to do that too. Canadians watching this would also be wondering why we do not just do that. The issues of cyberbullying are complex and critical, and they are happening right now as I speak.
This issue is far too important, too pressing, and too complex, quite frankly, to dump it into a boilerplate piece of legislation that contains all sorts of other issues. Maybe the government can explain to Canadians the link between cyberbullying and the inclusion in this law of a two-year sentence for the theft of cable television. That is in the bill.
We are trying to get to the nub of an issue that is affecting many of our young people and many of our families, and for some families it is affecting them in the most tragic of ways.
I am trying to contain my sense of outrage that we even have to discuss pulling this part of the bill out and having it as a stand-alone piece and voting on it immediately. However, the government did have that opportunity when my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour presented his cyberbullying bill in the first place.
When faced with such pressing issues around protecting our young people, it is tempting to consider lowering the bar in our pursuit of protecting people's privacy and protecting civil liberties. It is tempting to do that. I think that one of the reasons the government has thrown in all these other things that it would like to do is that, again, it is trying to play politics with this issue.
However, it is not just the opposition that has serious concerns about some of the other issues that are in the bill. The Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner, Madam Cavoukian, also has serious concerns about this, as she did with Bill C-30. It is the same with Canada's Privacy Commissioner, who had raised serious concerns about Bill C-30 and is going to carefully look at this bill as well.
I would sum up by saying that sometimes it is better for all of us that we park the partisanship in this place and deal with a pressing issue that affects Canadians and some of our more vulnerable young people from coast to coast to coast. By separating this part out of Bill C-13, we would be doing that. We would also be signalling to Canadians that we do take this seriously and that we want to act quickly to protect the young people of this country.