Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.)
|| That the House recognize: (a) the fundamental right of all Canadians to the freedoms of speech, communication and privacy, and that there must be a clear affirmation on the need for these rights to be respected in all forms of communication; (b) that the collection by government of personal information and data from Canadians relating to their online activities without limits, rules, and judicial oversight constitutes a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ protections against unreasonable search and seizure; (c) that Canadians who have expressed deep concerns about Bill C-30 should not be described as being friends of child pornography or advocates of criminal activity; (d) that the Charter is the guarantor of the basic rights and freedoms of all Canadians; and (e) that the Charter is paramount to any provision of the Criminal Code of Canada; and accordingly the House calls on the Prime Minister to ensure that any legislation put forward by his government respects the provisions of the Charter and its commitment to the principles of due process, respect for privacy and the presumption of innocence.
He said: I appreciate the chance to discuss this important question in the House. I think we would all agree that the introduction of Bill C-30 has caused a powerful reaction around the country. It is important for members, in discussing this issue, to engage not only each other but also the public in a serious discussion of what the issues in this legislation really are and why it is important that we in the House indicate our understanding and support for the principles in the charter, for the role of the courts in asserting the role of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and in our understanding that there may well be objections to the legislation as it is currently drafted. Those objections need to be treated with respect and civility and not with simply a curt dismissal that somehow they represent a lobby on behalf of criminal activity in the country.
I will begin by reading into the record the words of Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin in a recent case, the Gomboc decision. That case dealt with the question of the access by police to information with respect to the use of electricity in a particular place because of the suspicion that the house was being used as a grow op. The reason for reading this into the record is not that it says anything about that particular case but that it is a reminder to all of us as to the importance of the issues that we are discussing.
Chief Justice McLachlin stated:
|| Every day, we allow access to information about the activities taking place inside our homes by a number of people, including those who deliver our mail, or repair things when they break, or supply us with fuel and electricity, or provide television, Internet, and telephone services. Our consent to these “intrusions”, into our privacy, and into our homes, is both necessary and conditional: necessary, because we would otherwise deprive ourselves of services nowadays considered essential; and conditional, because we permit access to our private information for the sole, specific, and limited purpose of receiving those services.
|| A necessary and conditional consent of this sort does not trump our reasonable expectation of privacy in the information to which access is afforded for such a limited and well-understood purpose. When we subscribe for cable services, we do not surrender our expectation of privacy in respect of what we access on the Internet, what we watch on our television sets, what we listen to on our radios, or what we send and receive by e-mail on our computers.
|| Likewise, when we subscribe for public services, we do not authorize the police to conscript the utilities concerned to enter our homes, physically or electronically, for the purpose of pursuing their criminal investigations without prior judicial authorization. We authorize neither undercover officers nor utility employees acting as their proxies to do so.
The issues that are raised in the legislation are significant. I want to state for the record, because we all need to be clear on this issue, that the purpose of the legislation is to extend the investigatory power of the police over methods of communication in the Criminal Code of Canada. It is not only about child pornography. The short title of the act is, candidly, a misnomer. It is not really what the act is all about. Yes, it covers child pornography but it also covers any kind of criminal activity. Indeed, it covers activity that is covered by the Anti-terrorism Act and the Competition Act, as examples. This really has to do with extending the power of investigation and intrusion into very extensive matters covering all methods and means of communication.
Let us be clear. Under the current provisions of the Criminal Code, which has the support of all members of the House, we grant to our police officers and our security officials under the CSIS Act the power to watch what people are doing. If they then feel that there is criminal activity under way, we grant them the power to ask a judge whether it is possible to, in the case of the current Criminal Code, intercept phone calls and other forms of communication. No one on this side of the House is suggesting for a moment that it is inappropriate, in circumstances where there are clear and probable grounds to believe that a criminal act is either being performed or is about to be performed, for the police to ask for the powers to look at what is happening. That is not inappropriate.
We are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the charter this spring. It has set out some of the protections for privacy and some of the concerns that the House of Commons and the Senate had with respect to entrenching certain critical individual rights. It is important for us to recognize that the charter simply expresses and codifies what, in effect, has been the law of Canada and indeed the common law throughout countries that follow the common law, and the Criminal Code, which applies to all jurisdictions in Canada and has been our jurisprudence for hundreds of years, which contains limits on the powers of the state to intrude into the privacy of people's homes. If we are to break through that line and cross over that frontier, we have to have the approval of the courts before we can do so.
The issue which is raised most directly by Bill C-30 is really the issue contained in clauses 16 and 17. These provisions pertain to, in clause 16, written requests, and, in clause 17, oral requests.
Clause 16 states:
|| On written request by a person designated...every telecommunications service provider must provide the person with identifying information in the service provider’s possession or control respecting the name, address, telephone number and electronic mail address of any subscriber to any of the service provider’s telecommunications services and the Internet protocol address and local service provider identifier that are associated with the subscriber’s service and equipment.
Section 17 allows not just any authorized person but any police officer, if he or she has reason to believe on reasonable grounds that the urgency requires the information right away, to get that information simply by making a phone call and saying, “We need this information right away”.
There is room surely for a legitimate debate about whether or not obtaining that information is in fact a breach of privacy.
We have the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but before the charter, there was a principle underlying our legal system, what I would call a basic right, that the state cannot intervene in the private affairs of individuals without the authorization of a judge. That is clear. That is the problem we have with this bill. We see the need for a civil debate in which all participants clearly acknowledge people's right to privacy. In addition, with sections 7 and 8 of the charter, it must be clear that the law specifically protects individual rights and privacy.
The debate today can go in many different directions. I think it is very important for the House to treat the views of those people who are concerned about this legislation with a degree of understanding and respect.
We on this side would never say that we do not believe there are grounds, times and ways in which the police and other investigating officers have a right to access information which is held by a service provider. In the same way, a telephone company would have to allow for interception of a telephone call. As well, if criminal activity is taking place on the Internet, or by means of a cell communication, or by some other digital means, of course, it is reasonable for the police to have access to that information in order to know what is going on.
The key issue is whether the House is prepared to say to Canadians that it can happen, but it cannot happen without prior judicial authorization. It is really a very specific issue. However, when we look at all the other provisions of the bill, it is complicated. It is a long piece of legislation.
We welcome the fact that, in response to this literally unprecedented wave of objection to the bill, the government has decided to put it into committee before calling it for second reading. I think that is a good idea. I would argue that would be a good idea for a lot of other legislation as well. We would be glad to see that done on other occasions. I say to the government that we think it is important to do this.
On our side, we are strongly committed to having this discussion, at least to recognize that there is a legitimate basis for concern on the privacy argument. If we were to simply reject that right to privacy, we would be flying in the face not only of the charter, but of the charter as it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court of Canada in literally dozens of decisions it has taken since the House voted on the charter in 1981.
I hesitate to even mention this point, but I happen to be sitting not very far from where I was standing when I voted in favour of the charter and the patriation of the Constitution. I am not going to quote my own words from that time, but I invite the member opposite to read the speech. I recommend it to him in terms of his level of enlightenment.
I have heard members sitting in this House criticize the charter. When those people say that the charter is something which works on behalf of criminal activity but not on behalf of others, that is simply not true. When we are arguing on behalf of privacy we are not arguing on behalf of criminal activity. We are arguing about the boundaries of the distinction between what is private and what the state has reasonable grounds to have access to. What are the tests that the state has to meet in order to cross that line?
The courts have said there are tests that people have to meet. The courts do insist that the police follow these sets of rules and regulations. Yes, in circumstances they can be difficult and onerous. Yes, if the steps are not followed properly then there are decisions that are made, in effect, to say that there has to be a new trial because the rules were broken with respect to what was admissible as evidence. There is a name for that in our society. It is called the rule of law.
We did not give the courts some sort of new role that they did not have before in the charter. The courts always had the role and the responsibility of saying that when legislators go too far, or when legislators are unwise in how they proceed, then there needs to be a step back. There have been lots of times in Canadian history, long before the charter, when the courts said we could do this, but not do that.
Perhaps there are some members opposite who remember the infamous Alberta press bill, where the legislature under the intellectually precedent government of the one opposite, the Social Credit Party of Alberta, said the press had to give the government side of every story they were running. The press had to provide for the alternative official position in order to allow for balanced reporting. The Supreme Court of Canada said there was no way they could demand that, as it was an infringement of the freedom of the press and an infringement of freedom of speech.
In Quebec, long before the charter, Premier Duplessis personally said that Mr. Roncarelli, because of his association with the Jehovah's Witnesses, could have a restaurant but the restaurant could not have a liquor licence. The Supreme Court, in a very famous judgment, said he could not do that. He could not use a completely irrelevant argument in order to stop somebody from pursuing his legal rights.
What the charter was intended to do, and I believe on balance what it has done, is essentially entrench and formalize the rights we have always known were there. The charter is an effective guarantor. Frankly, Parliament has to be a guarantor as well.
It is important for us in the House to understand what is at stake in these discussions. It has to do with our common commitment to the rule of law, our common commitment as a Parliament to the law of Canada, which includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and our common commitment to civility in how we treat the people who are on the other side.
There is no reason why the government should be voting against this motion. There is no reason for anyone in the House to vote against it. It states in a very balanced way the principles of the charter, the issues that are at stake here, and why it is so important for us as Canadians to deal with this issue in an intelligent way.
The police have to be able to do their job. We need to be able to deal with acts of violence, acts of terrorism, child predators and crimes inflicted on children. However, we need to do it in a way that fully conforms with the rule of law in our country.
Of course we will be following this debate with great interest. But as I have said, today's motion is clear: yes to private rights, yes to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and yes to the important concept that we can all agree to a necessary balance, the necessary role of the courts, respect for individuals and a civil debate on this issue.
There has been a lot of emotion around this debate. It is important for us to understand where some of that emotion comes from. We need to be able to deal with these issues with mutual respect and to study the bill carefully. I can assure the government we in the Liberal Party, in our role in the opposition, are going to be doing that in a responsible way. We will continue to work for a criminal code and a working police force, and the protection of Canadians that also guarantees the rights that all of us have to privacy and the rule of law.
Hon. Vic Toews (Minister of Public Safety, CPC):
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to address the motion before us today. During the past weeks there has been much attention on Bill C-30, the protecting children from Internet predators act.
Contrary to the implications of the interim Liberal leader's motion, our Conservative government strongly believes in the principles of due process, respect for privacy and the presumption of innocence. Bill C-30 adheres to those principles. Through Bill C-30 we seek to update Canada's laws as they do not adequately protect Canadians from online exploitation. We want to update our laws while striking the right balance between combatting crime and protecting privacy. That is why we will send this legislation directly to a parliamentary committee for a full examination.
Over the days and weeks, since we introduced this legislation nearly two weeks ago, I have listened with great interest to the comments of several hon. members and have also been quite intrigued by the remarks of several individuals and groups which have appeared in the news media, both those opposed and those in support of Bill C-30.
All of us know full well that healthy debate is one of the cornerstones of our parliamentary democracy. Indeed, it is the cornerstone of our democracy, but all of us also know that to be healthy, a debate must be informed by facts rather than speculation and unwarranted fearmongering. It must be informed by actual facts rather than personal attacks and half-truths.
As the interim Liberal leader clearly knows, our government strongly believes in the principles of due process, respect for privacy and the presumption of innocence. The fact that this motion seems to imply otherwise is not surprising.
Just yesterday, the interim Liberal leader apologized for one of his senior researchers who was responsible for a smear campaign against me. As I said yesterday, I take no issue with an open attack on the floor of this House in which the source of the attack may be seen by all. I do take strong issue with the idea that taxpayer dollars would be used to secretly attack a member of this House.
Despite yesterday's revelation and apology, the Liberal Party and the interim Liberal leader owe Canadians some answers. Did the senior researcher for the Liberal Party, Adam Carroll, use taxpayer resources and if so, what was the cost? Is the Liberal Party of Canada going to reimburse this amount to the House? What involvement did the member for Papineau have in this campaign? When did he first know a Liberal staffer was involved? Upon making this discovery, what did he do to prevent the smear campaign from advancing? Indeed, what did he personally do to advance and promote it?
Despite this smear campaign, I will continue to do my duty and carry out my responsibilities in respect of this legislation on behalf of our government. I am therefore very pleased to have this chance to speak to the real facts about Bill C-30 and to set the record straight on a number of fronts.
Canadians deserve to hear a reasonable dialogue on issues which affect their lives and ensure their overall safety, a dialogue based on reason rather than hysteria, a dialogue based on facts rather than the outlandish conspiracies put forward by the member for Timmins—James Bay. I therefore want to focus my remarks today on what Bill C-30 will do and then speak about what it will not do, in other words, what is in the legislation and what is not, what is fact and what is fiction.
I have spent the better part of my career advocating for the safety and security of Canadians. As a prosecutor, as a child protection lawyer, as a federal and provincial attorney general, and in my current job as Canada's Minister of Public Safety, I have made it my goal to put the rights of victims ahead of the interests of criminals.
Over the years it has become more and more clear to me and to countless thousands of other Canadians that our laws were falling far behind the technology used by criminals. The frustration that police have experienced through the years is palpable.
After I entered politics, I heard the same story from law enforcement officials so many times that I began to wonder if the problem would or could ever be fixed. Even so, soon after my appointment as federal justice minister in 2006, I was introduced to the concept of lawful access, which dealt with the challenge of fighting crime and investigating threats in an era of new communications technology. I was struck by the reality that our approach to the Internet has been shaped for a previous generation, one grounded in equipment like the telex machine.
This is a concern that we have heard from law enforcement and security agencies right across this country, as well as our international allies. I might add at this point that our international allies have, in fact, adopted this legislation. In that respect, Canada is not going ahead of any other of our fellow western democracies. In 2009, Chief Constable Jim Chu of the Vancouver Police Department said that our laws were “originally written in the era of rotary phones”. Bill C-30 would repair this.
Bill C-30 is not the first attempt to update our laws. The problem is well known. As acknowledged by the interim Liberal leader, even the Liberals knew it. The Liberal Party introduced similar bills on three separate occasions and its present position on Bill C-30 clearly proves that the Liberals are a value-free, principle-free, idea-free party that will accept and adopt whatever position they think is possible on the issue of the day. Liberals have been supporting legislation such as this for 10 years, with weaker protections for privacy. Our government introduced similar bills twice, once in 2009 and once in 2010.
To the disappointment of many, and despite the tireless efforts of people like Paul Gillespie, formerly of the Toronto Police Service and now the head of the Kids Internet Safety Alliance, and Roz Prober of Beyond Borders, none of these attempts resulted in the passage of these necessary amendments to the law, as these bills all died on the order paper. I am sure that many hon. members have heard Mr. Gillespie speak passionately about the emotional toll that child exploitation investigations take on front-line officers. Each day these officers are confronted by the bleak reality that thousands of children are sexually abused in graphic, unimaginable ways. The reality is that police simply do not have the tools to effectively fight these crimes. This is true not only in cases related to child pornography but also identity theft, online organized crime, and many Internet scams and frauds.
More than a decade ago, police spoke up and told the government of the day that they lacked the tools to keep up with changing technology. Here is just one example that illustrates the ongoing frustration and problems with the current system. It comes from Kingston Police Detective Constable Stephanie Morgan. Detective Morgan received information via the Internet that a person might attempt suicide. When she approached a telecommunications service provider for help in locating that person, she was prevented from proceeding further. She said:
|| In that case, the Internet service provider refused to give us that information because of the person's privacy. To this day, I don't know who the person was who sent the message, I don't know if they were in distress or if they later committed suicide.... I think that would not have happened if this legislation was in place.
Let me give a second example. Hon. members may have heard of the case where, as part of a massive worldwide investigation of child pornography, Germany alerted Canadian law enforcement officials that 200 IP addresses using Canadian Internet service providers were associated with online child exploitation. The RCMP requested information from these Canadian Internet service providers to help them identify potential suspects. Unfortunately, the RCMP was unable to identify the account holders associated with 47 specific IP addresses due to a lack of co-operation from some service providers. That meant that 47 leads reached a dead end and that today countless children remain at risk.
A third example is an international criminal investigation that involved 78 Canadian IP addresses linked to the purchase of child pornography. In this case, requests for customer names and addresses were submitted to the relevant Internet service providers. However, this basic subscriber information was again not provided by all the service providers. As a result, 18 suspects have not been identified and today remain free to jeopardize the safety and security of young Canadians.
These are not isolated cases. Last year alone, 62 requests for basic subscriber information made by the RCMP's National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre in Ottawa were refused. It is simply unacceptable.
That is why, on February 14, I reintroduced legislation that closely resembles the efforts of the previous Liberal government, but with important improvements that better protect the privacy of Canadians. I might point out that this legislation has the support of all provincial and territorial attorneys general and public safety ministers. The Liberal flip-flop on this piece of legislation is simply unbelievable.
Bill C-30 allows police to request six kinds of basic subscriber information to assist with the kinds of investigations that I just spoke about. However, just as critically, it makes police 100% accountable through audits and obligations to report to federal and provincial privacy commissioners.
Let us look at the first part, that relating to basic subscriber information.
Basic subscriber information is essential for criminal and national security investigations, as well as for responding to non-criminal community needs such as assisting families to find runaway youths. We have improved on previous versions of this legislation by reducing the number of basic subscriber information points that police could request of service providers, from 11 in the Liberal legislation down to 6. This information is clearly stated: name, address, phone number, email address, Internet protocol address, local service provider identifier and nothing more. This is the modern day equivalent of a phone book and phone book information.
Bill C-30 would put in place a system of checks and balances that simply does not exist today, including the fact that officials would have to be designated to make subscriber information requests. Only a limited number of officials would be allowed to be designated to request basic subscriber information, either five individuals or 5% of an agency's workforce, whichever is greater. It would be set out in the law that all requests for basic subscriber information would have to be made in the performance of a duty or a function of the agency in which the designated official is employed.
For internal auditing purposes, officials would be required to record the purpose of each request for basic subscriber information. The police, CSIS and the Competition Bureau would conduct regular internal audits to ensure that their practices and procedures for requesting basic subscriber information complied with the legislation. All findings of these audits, including any concerns and actions taken or proposed, would be provided either to the Minister of Public Safety or the Minister of Industry, as well as the review body responsible for that organization, such as the Privacy Commissioner.
Basic subscriber information does not include information pertaining to the websites a person has visited, or the content of emails or phone calls either made or received. Police will continue to obtain judicial authorization, or a warrant, before requesting this type of information from service providers, as they do today. There is no change to the law in this regard. Bill C-30 would create no new powers to access the content of emails, web browsing history or phone calls beyond the powers that already exist in Canadian law today.
Law enforcement and national security officials will continue to rely on lawful authority before they are allowed to intercept communications. This has been the case for the last 40 years and will continue to be the case under Bill C-30. I emphasize this point because so far there has been a great deal of misinformation spread about this component of the legislation.
As I mentioned earlier, law enforcement officials today can already intercept private communications in very exceptional circumstances without first obtaining court authorization. It simply recognizes that there are situations and some cases where action needs to be taken quickly, in such cases as kidnappings or bomb threats, where an immediate interception could help save lives. Furthermore, this legislation proposes to add robust safeguards to the laws that will increase accountability and transparency.
Some have accused me of not reading a bill that I have been involved in shaping for over half a decade. Ironically, when I read most media coverage of Bill C-30 I am struck by just how poorly the bill is understood by many writers.
That is why our government intends to send this legislation directly to committee for full examination. I hope that all Canadians, and especially members of Parliament and the media, will read, discuss and reflect on the bill. The fact is that stakeholders, victims advocacy groups, police associations, all attorneys generals and public safety ministers in this country have asked for and support these changes, as do many ordinary Canadians.
As I have said before, the proposals we are putting forward are not new or even revolutionary. The focus of Bill C-30 is not to create new interception powers. It will not compromise the privacy of Canadians or put an undue burden on businesses. What it would do would be to bring our country's legislation out of the Cold War era and into the 21st century, along with other western democracies around the world.
This legislation would provide law enforcement and CSIS with the updated tools they need, while providing maximum flexibility for industry and creating rigorous safeguards to protect privacy. It strikes an appropriate balance between the needs of law enforcement and CSIS, the competitiveness of industry, and the privacy of Canadians.
We told Canadians during the last election that we would continue to crack down on crime. We have delivered on that. We told them that we would address the needs of the victims of terrorism by allowing them to sue the perpetrators of terrorist acts and their supporters. We have delivered on that. We have done a lot. We are doing a lot.
I look forward to continuing the debate on Bill C-30 both at committee and in the House.
Mr. Jasbir Sandhu (Surrey North, NDP):
Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to the motion put forward by the member for Toronto Centre. The motion asks the House to recognize the fundamental rights of all Canadians to the freedoms of speech, communication and privacy and that there must be a clear affirmation on the need for these rights to be respected in all forms of communication and that the House recognize that the collection by government of personal information and data from Canadians relating to their online activities, without limits, rules, judicial oversight, constitutes a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms' protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Of course I will support the motion.
The motion asks to affirm the basic rights and freedoms of all Canadians as identified in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, it saddens me that the member for Toronto Centre was compelled to put forward a motion that asks us, the members of the House, to affirm what as legislators we should be protecting everyday, what should be the guiding principle of work everyday in the House. The member was compelled to introduce the motion because of the reckless and ill-conceived Bill C-30, a bill which contains a serious violation of the rights and freedoms of law-abiding Canadians.
When members stood in the House and asked the Minister of Public Safety to reconsider this reckless legislation, the minister said, “He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers”. We are often warned that rights and freedoms are not permanent, that we only keep them if we stand up and fight for them. However, when members of the House stand up and fight to protect these rights when they are being threatened by their government, we are accused of being sympathetic to child pornographers.
I think many Canadians realized because of that moment, if they did not already, that the government was a different kind of government than we had seen before, a government that was not only willing to attack the basic rights and freedoms of Canadians, but would also bully and threaten, in the worst way, when it was questioned about this attack.
I support the motion, but I lament that the government has created the conditions, the situations where this kind of motion is necessary in the first place.
Canadians should pay very close attention to this, not only to the bill but to what appears to be a complete disregard for the basic principles of democracy, rights, freedoms and respect for free and fair electoral process. The Conservatives pled guilty to election fraud just a few months ago. Now we hear the Conservative campaign may have been involved in widespread voter suppression, yet more election fraud.
I will be splitting my time with the member for Terrebonne—Blainville.
Last Friday, I had a chance to attend a citizenship ceremony in my community of Surrey, British Columbia. It was a very special day for those attending their citizenship.
I, too, remember a special day for me about 20 years ago when I became a Canadian citizen. There were about 85 people, elderly, young, in all walks of life, and they came from about 20 different countries. Many of them told me that they came here for a better life. A number of them came from war-torn countries. Others came from lawless countries and some may have come from countries where there might be police brutality. Many had escaped these terrible situations to adopt Canada as their new country. I could see the pride in the eyes of the would-be new immigrants.
As a part of preparation for citizenship, the new Canadians learn about our Charter of Rights. It would be fair to say that most of them expect the government and the governing party of Canada to respect the Charter of Rights.
I had a chance to address the new citizens at the end of the ceremony and encouraged them to get involved in politics and the political process in Canada, if they were not already involved. I encouraged them to exercise their right to vote. I can only imagine what those new citizens feel when they see headlines about this new country they have worked so hard to become a citizen of saying that those rights and freedoms are under attack by the sitting government and that the governing party is already guilty of election fraud, perhaps even widespread voter suppression and, more seriously, election fraud.
In May, I was elected to represent the people of Surrey North in the House. I and all members of the House have been given a wonderful opportunity and a phenomenal responsibility. New Democrats are standing up to protect the basic rights and freedoms of Canadians and the serious erosion of privacy and expansion of unchecked surveillance powers contained in Bill C-30.
I challenge the members on the other side of the House to do what they know is right and reject Bill C-30. They should think about the responsibility they have and what our rights and freedoms mean and do what they know is right.
This motion also calls on the House to recognize the charter as paramount to any provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada and for the Prime Minister to ensure that any legislation put forward by the government respects the provisions of the charter and its commitments to principles of due process, privacy and the presumption of innocence. Without the principles of due process, adequate judicial oversight, respect for privacy and the presumption of innocence, our judicial system and, ultimately, our democracy stops working.
I ask members on the other side to seriously consider not only supporting this motion but understanding the gravity of the threat to our rights and freedoms contained in Bill C-30. I also ask them to consider the responsibilities they have as legislators and as members of a governing party that has shown a very serious lack of respect for not only our rights and freedoms but also our democracy. We should not have to stand in the House and speak to this motion but here we are today because of the actions of the government. Canadians deserve better.
Ms. Charmaine Borg:
Madam Speaker, in light of Bill C-30, it is absolutely crucial that we reopen the debate on the importance of privacy protection. The opposition parties understand the need to modernize our legislation; however, Bill C-30 goes too far and directly infringes upon section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects us against unreasonable search or seizure. When a minister proposes bills like this, we need to have a debate and I am happy we are talking about this issue here today.
Many civil society stakeholders, privacy commissioners, my colleagues and I wrote letters to the Minister of Public Safety to share our concerns and those of our fellow citizens regarding clause 16 of the previous version of this bill, Bill C-52. The minister had the opportunity to correct his bill. We told him about the problems we saw with it and about our concerns. Did he make any changes? Yes, he made some. We heard the minister say so earlier in his speech; clause 16 reduces the number of identifiers from 11 to 6. That is true, but as my colleague from Surrey North pointed out, the minister also added provisions to the bill in a rather backdoor fashion. Paragraphs 64(1)(q) and 64(1)(r) give the government the power to prescribe and add identifiers to the list. Has the bill really been corrected? No. Only superficial changes have been made. I have a serious problem with this.
When we shared our concerns about this bill, we also spoke about judicial oversight. There was not enough. We had a problem with giving access to Internet users' private information without judicial oversight. Has the government alleviated this concern? I would say no. Yes, the government has put a system in place, but it is an internal audit system. For Canadians who are concerned about the protection of their privacy, this is just a semblance of judicial oversight. It is not enough, and Canadians are not satisfied with these measures.
If the minister had taken the time to read our letters and listen to the concerns of Canadians and privacy commissioners, he could have fixed these mistakes. Instead, he is covering them up by sending the bill to committee. He also accused us of supporting child pornography. We see a minister who had the opportunity to fix his bill and to protect our right to privacy but did not do so.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms exists for a reason. It must be respected. The protection of privacy exists for a reason. It is set out in section 8 of the charter. It is the House's responsibility to make decisions. And when it does, it must take into account what is written in the charter. It is our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It must be respected, particularly when we are making decisions and laws in this chamber.
When I see bills like Bill C-30 introduced in the House, I wonder whether this government really respects the charter. In fact, this is not the first time that the Conservatives have introduced a bill that goes against the legislation that protects our rights and freedoms. Rather than listening to the opposition and to Canadians who are concerned about their privacy, the Conservatives accused us of supporting child pornography. They accused mothers, fathers, grandparents, privacy commissioners and their former colleague, Stockwell Day, of supporting child pornography.
In a democracy like ours—I know that these days it is feeling less like a democracy than usual—it is unbelievable that a government can accuse its own voters of supporting child pornography because they are against a bill. I thought we were living in a democracy and we had the right to speak out against things and protest.
We are living in a high-tech world. Everyone has a BlackBerry, an iPhone, an iPad, laptops. We carry our cellphones with us. Through this bill, the government is giving itself a tool that can determine our geographic location at all times. The government is telling us that the same information is available in the phone book, but the last time I checked, the phone book did not provide my geographic location at all times. It had my address, my phone number and my name, but not my Internet protocol address or my Internet service provider identification number.
It is a real problem: our minister is telling Canadians that this is the same information that we find in a telephone book, which is absolutely not true. This is information that will allow the government to take away the anonymity of the Internet user. These days, the Internet is used as a discussion forum, a forum where people can discuss their concerns.
I want to thank the House for this discussion. I hope that all hon. members of the House will stand up and support this Liberal opposition motion to protect the privacy of their constituents, those who elected them.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.):
Madam Speaker, I find today's debate interesting. We are learning many things. I would like to begin by talking a bit about the nature of technology.
Bill C-30 is fundamentally about technology, very complex and rapidly evolving technology that we use daily, but which we do not always fully understand.
However, Canadians are beginning to understand that digital communications technology and its associated everyday practical applications, like email, the Internet and hands-free communications through portable devices such as smart phones is eroding individual privacy. There have been two distinct reactions to this fact.
On the one hand there are those who say this is disconcerting, that we need to act to prevent further erosion of privacy in this brave new world of electronic communications. On the other hand there are those who say to get used to it, that there is nothing we can do. They say that we have to learn to live with this new way of being and communicating, that in the end no one really cares about the details of our private lives. They say that we are all in the same boat, that we should let go of our concerns, adjust and adapt.
The latter view will strike someone who has been refused a job because of his or her careless and sophomoric Facebook entry years ago as patently naive to think that we should just learn to live with the new breaches of privacy.
I will digress to talk about the inherent nature of technology. This understanding is based on my reading many years ago of a book by a famous Canadian political philosopher, George Grant, entitled, Technology and Justice.
What I took from that book is that technology is not neutral. Many will say that this is obvious, that this is commonplace, that technology can be used for the good or it can be enlisted for less noble ends. For example, nuclear technology can be used for medical diagnosis and energy production to supply hospitals, homes and businesses with power, or it can be used for mutually destructive war. I think we all get this. I think that is obvious to all of us.
Grant's argument goes a bit deeper. Technology is not neutral in the sense that it is not simply developed to satisfy a curiosity or to be left on the shelf. We are not talking about pure research, which is often about scientists playing with ideas and discovering the unexpected simply to satisfy their curiosity. A theoretical physicist might say that is what occupies his or her day. It is simply the exploration of ideas and the playing of ideas for the sake of it, and then something drops out of it unexpectedly.
We feel compelled to use technology once we have it. In fact, that is why we develop it in the first place, to fashion our reality, to fashion our environment, to suit our practical needs and interests.
Obviously in developing technology most of us feel that our goal is a noble one, even when we drift into using technology for questionable or downright destructive ends in retrospect.
Technology is meant to be used. It is intended to be used to manipulate or control our reality for our own self-interest as human beings, for our benefit as human beings, whether we are talking about medical treatment to make people healthy or to transform the Alberta oil sands into profit, thus benefiting our balance of trade.
Let us look at computer technology. Computers allow for compiling databases. This was one of their first uses. Computerized databases are useful. Once we have the capability to do so, as some lament, we want to catalogue everything. We want to collect information, sometimes just for the sake of it, until we figure out what to do with that data. We do not need to go far to see how databases are used, and sometimes quite aggressively, to attain a specific goal.
Political parties use databases to contact voters, build support and raise money. These databases have the capacity to be used in an underhanded way, as we are seeing emerge in the current Conservative robocall scandal, but that is not the main point of my discussion.
As in the case with society as a whole, technology has changed policing. Policing used to simply be about catching law-breakers or first deterring crime by the fact of a police presence, like a cop on the beat. Now, in the words of David Lyon, the world-leading surveillance studies scholar:
|| As with database marketing, the policing systems are symptomatic of broader trends. In this case the trend is towards attempting prediction and pre-emption of behaviors, and of a shift to what is called “actuarial justice” in which communication of knowledge about probabilities plays a greatly increased role in assessments of risk.
What the above quote means is that modern policing is more and more about data collection, necessarily through surveillance and building profiles through data collection and then tracking individuals who could theoretically pose a problem for public security.
That is all well and good. We want to prevent crime. We want the police to be proactive and vigilant in preventing crime. However, the new technologically sophisticated crime prevention tools also come with side effects. Some of these we may not want to live with or otherwise want to constrain through rigorous, effective and wise laws, or by standing up to hold the government to account when it introduces legislation that is rooted in this human fascination with the power and possibilities of technology in allowing us to control our surroundings.
Proponents of greater state surveillance say that we have nothing to be worried about if we are not doing anything wrong. However, that attitude, apart from sounding like it comes from big brother's two-way television monitor, ignores the fact that individuals can suffer the consequences of surveillance even if they have done nothing wrong. We only need to think of Maher Arar and others who have been unjustly detained at the border or at airports and who were completely innocent. Surveillance technology has placed them in the wrong category, under the wrong tab, in the big brother database, even though they had nothing to hide.
This is where modern surveillance technology can lead us if we are not careful to constrain and control it through good laws that protect our charter right to privacy and our right to live in a healthy free-thinking democracy. These new Internet surveillance technologies can catch the innocent in its ever-expanding web.
Christopher Parsons, at the University of Victoria, has described how this can happen. We need to consider the following scenario, and I will quote because I do not think anyone could have put it better. He says:
|| In college/university/your private life you...communicate with individuals who have, or presently do, agitate peacefully against certain state [behaviours]. You may or may not be aware that those individuals behaviour...[or perhaps you know nothing about it]. [In any case,] you...engage in discussions with those people online, either on websites that those opposed to certain state behaviours, or in the comments section of newspaper articles, or other electronic formats. Should the police be interested in tracking the individuals invested in an issue (e.g. legalization of marijuana [or] protest against federal decisions concerning Sri Lankan immigrants...[with whom you have been talking] [your]...subscriber records for all who have participated in the online discussion. Now, let’s...assume that you were not supportive of opposition to an official government position and...aren’t necessarily of direct interest to authorities. Regardless, your subscriber data and that of everyone else engaged in these discussions might be requested by the police. No warrant is required to provide this information. ... They would get the same information for every participant of the discussion. With this information they could turn to whomever provided the email account, as well as contact the ISP who provisioned the IP address at the specific time that you posted your message. With information from the email provider they may be able to definitely identify the ISP that you use and, from there, your name, address, and so forth. ... [You] will never know that [you were] added into such a database because the service provider could not legally disclose that the information had been released and, as a result, [your] life prospects may change for legally associating and speaking with those who were similarly engaged in legal speech and association.
Some people will say that they would never have these kinds of discussions online, only over the phone. Bill C-30's provisions, allowing the state to obtain six pieces of subscriber information without a warrant, still leaves a law-abiding citizen vulnerable. If people have a cellphone and are downtown shopping and they happen to walk by a protest, such as a G20 protest, stop with a friend to observe this because it is something they do not see everyday; or they visit an occupy camp; or were a passive spectator in the 2011 Vancouver hockey riots, their cellphone's identity may be captured by police. This can happen because police can use a technology known in the U.S. as a Stringray IMSI catcher, which is a piece of equipment that emulates a cellphone tower and captures IMSI numbers within several kilometres of the capture.
IMSI means international mobile subscriber identity number. This number can be taken to a mobile phone provider and used under clause 16(1) of Bill C-30 to obtain one's name, address and Internet protocol number. In other words, the cellphone subscriber can find his or her information sent to police and entered into a police database.
As a result of clause 23 of Bill C-30, the telecommunications service provider would be prohibited from disclosing to a subscriber that his or her basic subscriber information has been submitted upon request to a law enforcement agency. As Christopher Parsons concluded:
|| The capacity to acquire IMSI numbers en masse, combined with legal powers to compel subscriber information, creates the perfect framework for mass fishing expeditions based on where citizens are physically present.
Some might say that the police would never track people in this way nor would they go to the next step of gathering information on people's friends and acquaintances. However, the evidence confirms otherwise. In fact, at the Vancouver Olympics, people who were conducting legal actions and protests of the games became the targets of a surveillance apparatus that followed their entries on web forums even though disclosed memos obtained in the lead up to the Olympics found that no specific credible threat existed.
Furthermore, he states:
|| Surveillance and intelligence gathering did not solely focus on citizens involved...but also their contacts, friends, students, former partners, and academic and professional acquaintances.
Efforts were made to recruit neighbours, friends and acquaintances to spy on suspected activists.
This concern about Bill C-30 opening the door further to the state being able to track protestors who are legally voicing their views in a democracy was the motivation and the essence of my question for the Minister of Public Safety on February 14 when the minister, through his answer, triggered a national firestorm by his disproportionate answer to that question.
Proponents of expanding the surveillance powers through the adoption of Bill C-30 claim that these powers would be used to investigate the most serious crimes only. However, this is not what the experience in other countries shows. In other jurisdictions, similar powers have been used to investigate less serious offences.
According to Nestor Arellano, there is no shortage of research which indicates that the implementation of an online surveillance regime in the European Union and the United States has been fraught with flaws, abuse and costs ultimately shouldered by Internet service providers tasked by government to essentially snoop on their customers.
More than 10 years ago, the United Kingdom passed the regulation of investigatory powers act to extend law enforcement agencies access to communication systems to help police battle crime and terrorist related activity. Under a voluntary code of practice, ISPs retain data such as content of email servers, email server logs, IP addresses, SMS messages and others from six to twelve months. Reports from the interception commissioner, which provides a yearly assessment of interception of communication traffic, indicate that a growing number of interception errors are occurring. In 2007, there were 24 interception errors and breaches found, which the commissioner deemed to be too high, according to Mr. Parsons.
In 2009, there were 36 interception errors and breaches attributed to the general communications headquarters of the secret service, Her Majesty's Revenue Agency and Customs Agency, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the Scottish government, the metropolitan police counterterrorism command and the National Technical Assistance Centre. During that year, there were a total of 525,130 requests for communications data that resulted in 661 reported errors.
A report released by the U.K. civil liberties group Big Brother Watch paints a troubling picture of how law enforcement agents handle data that passes through their hands. The organization found that, between 2007 and 2010, 243 police officers and staff received criminal convictions for breaking the country's data protection act; 98 police officers and staff were terminated for breaching the data protection act; and 904 police officers and staff were subjected to internal disciplinary procedures for breaching the data protection act. In one notable case, no less than 208 officers and staff received legal caution for viewing computer records related to a high profile crime. In another, a staff member was dismissed for discussing police information on Facebook. Numerous others were found to have access to criminal records and personal data for no obvious policing purposes.
In the United States, the problem is more significant, according to Parsons who says that the country “suffers from endemic inappropriate surveillance”. He said that the National Security Agency reportedly runs a warrantless wiretapping system with the assistance of major telecom providers, such as AT&T. A large amount of the surveillance conducted by state and federal agencies goes unreported.
This leads me to my conclusion. Privacy is fundamental in a healthy democracy, which is why our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms contains section 8. Section 8 of the charter provides everyone in Canada with protection against unreasonable search and seizure. This right provides Canadians with our primary source of constitutionally enforced privacy rights against unreasonable intrusion from the state. Typically, this protects personal information that can be obtained through searching someone in a pat-down or entering someone's property on surveillance.
Why is privacy fundamental? If law-abiding citizens feel they are being spied on, they begin to withdraw from the normal activities of life, like expressing themselves freely and legitimately, including nowadays through digital communication. When they withdraw, the seed of fear grows and whenever there is fear there is potential for manipulation by those in charge. Those in charge, who, understandably, like their powerful position, will drift, perhaps unconsciously, toward using that power to accumulate even more power. They will always do so under the pretense that the additional power is being used for the good. Those same people in charge, at least the less discerning and perhaps more sincere ones, will believe in their hearts that the system of increased state power they are building is for the larger good.
We hear from proponents of Bill C-30 that we must emulate other countries. However, we are not Europe and we are not the United States. We have the most modern rights charter of any of those countries. We are highly evolved and often ahead of the pack when it comes to respect for individual liberties. As Parsons has said, there is no need for cross-jurisdictional envy in these matters.
Ms. Candice Hoeppner (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla.
I am pleased to be able to rise today and join this debate on the motion by the interim Liberal leader. I am also pleased to have the opportunity to try to correct the avalanche of rhetoric, misinformation and lack of understanding that has been levelled at Bill C-30, which the member for Toronto Centre has based this motion around.
Our government has proposed legislation to ensure that Canada's laws adequately protect Canadians online. We expect Parliament to conduct a thorough review of our proposed legislation to ensure that we strike the right balance between protecting Canadians from crime while respecting Canadians' privacy rights.
I want to reiterate that point. I believe all of us in this House have the same goals in mind: we want to protect Canadians and to make sure that criminals are not able to access the Internet and use it to harm the most vulnerable in our society, especially our children. At the same time, we want to protect Canadians' privacy. I think this is a great opportunity for us to show leadership and together to make the changes, if they are necessary, to keep the tools the police need while striking a balance with privacy.
I go back to my point that the Liberals have supported this type of legislation for 10 years, albeit with weaker privacy protections in fact. Liberal MPs have tabled legislation on three separate occasions, in 2005, 2007 and 2009. Obviously, the members opposite realize that they can table legislation, that is, private members' bills, even if their party is not in government. Indeed, in 2007 and 2009 private members' bills on this were introduced by Liberal members of Parliament and were fully supported by the Liberals.
Once again, this is a very disturbing example of a double standard. The NDP members have been very consistent in their opposition and I give them credit for that, though I wish they would be a little more accurate in their debating. However, the Liberals have been completely inconsistent. It really is disappointing. It appears that the Liberals do not have ideas of their own and are constantly making decisions based on whatever way the wind is blowing and whatever they see as politically expedient. It is disturbing for democracy and for Canadians, wherever they may stand on this issue.
I will begin by clearing the record. This bill is not about police snooping or spying on Canadians. It is not about accessing their chat logs or web visits, nor is it about reading emails or looking at their Facebook pages. This is about equipping law enforcement officers with the tools they need to do their job to protect our children and our families from harm.
Let us be clear. The opposition have made some outrageous allegations, such as that the police will be trolling law-abiding Canadians, looking for information, reading emails and looking at their web activity. This is outrageous. It is completely inaccurate and, sadly, it has taken the debate on this bill to a very disturbing and destructive level. It has been personally destructive for certain members in this House. It has been destructive for democracy. I am hoping that today we can turn a new page and speak about the bill truthfully and debate it with respect, and maybe agree to disagree. We can take it to committee and make modifications. However, I am hoping that we can turn a new page and have a respectful and honest debate where people are not personally attacked. Sometimes families are hurt very badly by what goes on here.
I also just want to mention that I have been able to speak with a number of police officers, police chiefs and police forces dealing with online criminal activity. When I speak to police officers, they tell me they need resources and that they are still reeling from the Liberal cuts of the 1990s, including the decision to shut down RCMP Depot.
I want to outline why police are speaking with one voice, including front-line officers, officers who are on the ground, and police associations. They are speaking with one voice on Bill C-30 and looking to all of us in this chamber to stop trying to score cheap political points by fearmongering and using terms such as “prisoner bracelets” in talking about this bill. Police want us to bring the level of rhetoric down and not fearmonger but rather talk about this in an honest way again. Canadians have asked police to do a very difficult job, especially in tracking and trying to combat child pornography, for example. They need the tools from us to do their jobs.
Law enforcement officials from across the country have come together with the request that we provide them with 21st century tools and technologies to fight 21st century criminals, and not leave them handcuffed while criminals have their way.
Tom Stamatakis, president of the Canadian Police Association, said it well when he said that right now we are asking police to rely on “typewriters and rotary phones while criminals have smart phones and tablets.”
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police endorsed lawful access legislation when it was first introduced by former Liberal minister of public safety Anne McLellan over a decade ago. Canadians recognize the incredible growth in technology which has occurred in recent years. The Liberals' argument that somehow, because technology has gotten even smarter, faster and more advanced in the last few years, we do not need smarter and more advanced laws is completely ridiculous. It is because of that that we need to have laws in place and tools for police.
Law enforcement officials are being asked to protect the people and the communities of this country with legislation dating to the 1970s and the days of the rotary phone. Police require lawful access to communications and information in time-sensitive investigations into online child sexual abuse but also in cases of organized crime, drug trafficking and terrorism.
It is also important in certain non-criminal areas, like attempted suicide and missing persons cases. In such cases, basic subscriber information is the starting point in an investigation and perhaps the key to saving a life. There are those who suggest that a court order be sought in every single instance, that every request for basic subscriber information have a court order.
I would ask that all of us consider this snapshot of the state of online child sexual exploitation in Canada. According to the RCMP's National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre or NCECC, in the last 30 days alone there were 7,890 Canadian IP addresses from Internet forums involved in sharing or distributing child pornography online. That is just in the last 30 days, and those are just the ones that were accessed by the NCECC.
Consider if telecom service providers refused to provide basic subscriber information. This would translate into 7,890 requests for production orders. A straightforward production order is estimated to take up to three days of work, which translates into 23,670 days of work for those 7,000-plus production orders. We are talking about addresses that are directly involved with producing and distributing child pornography in Canada.
On the other hand, when service providers comply promptly, the same information can be obtained in a matter of hours. More time spent chasing down court orders for basic customer information is less time assessing files and, more importantly, less time rescuing our kids.
Imagine the burden on our justice system and resources if police had to get a warrant every time they needed this basic information, which is the equivalent of information in a modern phone book or a licence plate. If someone drives past a police checkpoint and the police run a licence plate number, they will get more detailed information than the information that would be detailed through this bill.
Between 2009 and 2011, there has been a steady increase of approximately 1,000 reports per year of child pornography referred to the NCECC from Cybertip, domestic and international law enforcement agencies and the public. Bear in mind, one report can have 1,000 Canadian IP addresses attached to it. The fact is that as technology advances, these types of crimes become easier and faster for criminals.
It is also very important to note that while we have been debating this, yesterday the interim Liberal leader, the mover of this motion, confirmed that one of his senior staff members, Adam Carroll, had engaged in negative and very personal attacks on the Minister of Public Safety. I am very glad to see that this individual resigned, though only, it appears, after he was caught by you, Mr. Speaker.
However, it does leave some serious unanswered questions. Did Adam Carroll and the Liberal Research Bureau use taxpayers' dollars and resources in order to conduct this sleazy secret campaign? If so, how much? We hope that—
Mr. Dan Albas (Okanagan—Coquihalla, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak to the motion, which calls upon the government to respect principles of due process, privacy and the presumption of innocence. Our government firmly believes in these principles.
I would like to recognize the member for Toronto Centre for his apology in the House yesterday and for bringing this motion forward today. We know that the Liberal Party attempted to introduce lawful access legislation in the past and that it is a concern of great importance for all Canadians. Let us recognize what the debate is really about. We are not here to debate a bill that allows law enforcement to spy on innocent, law-abiding Canadians without judicial oversight because that is not what Bill C-30 proposes. The core issue is far more important. The core issue is how we as members of Parliament protect the interests of Canadians in a world that is moving forward and toward the Internet. Let us stop to think for a moment about the importance of the issue.
Recently it was revealed that Nortel Networks had been hacked and seriously compromised. Intellectual property, bidding documents, business and marketing strategies, research and development and research papers were all alleged to have been compromised. While we often reflect on the fact that Canada is a country rich in natural resources, we sometimes overlook that we are also a country rich in intellectual property. Where is much of Canada's intellectual property found and stored? Online.
Recently we learned that the website of the Association of Chiefs of Police had been hacked and accessed. The fact is that hackers have demonstrated they have no problem accessing our personal information, even personal information belonging to law enforcement. There are seniors in my riding who have lost their life savings to online fraud. Working families have been victimized by online identity theft. Worse, innocent children have been targeted by deviants. In some areas of this country we have witnessed teenage suicide as a result of cyberbullying. Today these unfortunate incidents are the exception, but what about tomorrow? These crimes are becoming more common, not less.
Let us also recognize that more and more Canadians depend on the Internet for their banking and investments and it does not end there. E-commerce is creating jobs across our country. Existing businesses have found new customers, but it does not end there. Many regions are moving toward electronic health records online. This not only creates huge efficiencies in our health care community, but it can also greatly enhance patient care, more so in the emergency room environment.
Even we as members of the House increasingly rely on the Internet and electronic means to help us do our jobs. This is not a partisan issue. This is a reality.
Canada as a country is increasingly moving online, but as we move online, our ability to secure, police and protect our citizens is falling further and further behind. In fact, we must recognize that as it stands today, our law enforcement community currently has more tools to investigate a basic hit-and-run accident than it does to investigate serious online crime. Let me expand on that thought for a moment.
If a vehicle is observed to be in a hit-and-run accident and the suspect vehicle licence plate is recorded, it is understood that with that information, law enforcement, without a warrant, can obtain basic information about that vehicle, such as who the owner is and where the owner resides, and basic contact information. This type of information is used to further investigate an incident. We understand that law enforcement has the ability to obtain basic personal information without judicial authorization, but we also understand that this basic contact information available to law enforcement that can help locate a hit-and-run driver does not, I repeat does not, enable law enforcement to access personal communications without a warrant.
Should the same basic tools that are available to law enforcement in the real world not be available to fight crime in the online cyberworld? These are ultimately the questions we need to be asking in this debate, because the types of tools that have been available to Canadian police in mainstream society for many decades, fully subject to the Criminal Code of Canada and judicial oversight, do not currently exist online. That is ultimately what this debate is about.
We as parliamentarians have an obligation to protect Canadians and our national interests. The life savings of our citizens, the innocence of our youth, the intellectual property of our research and development sector, our e-commerce and soon even our health records depend on our ability to safeguard that information.
I have read Bill C-30 and I believe it would update our laws to help safeguard the interests of Canadians. It also would provide a balance that would recognize the privacy rights of personal communications while providing basic contact information which law enforcement could use to investigate crime.
Over the recent break, I had a chance to speak with many citizens, including a group of retired police officers, about this bill. Being able to gain basic information is critically important. It helps to solve crime. Bill C-30 would ensure that basic contact information would be available to our law enforcement. In some cases that information would be freely volunteered and in other cases it would not. I recognize there needs to be more consistency in this area. It is also important to be able to secure evidence before it can be deleted or destroyed, and that is addressed by Bill C-30. Those processes also involve judicial oversight. Most importantly, the bill would ensure that providers of online Internet services would ultimately acquire the technology to deal with Internet crime once it arises, which again would be subject to judicial overview.
Is there a cost to achieve this? That is a perfectly reasonable question. Absolutely there is, but there are also costs to remaining with the status quo and doing nothing. Think of our national research and development and our vast intellectual property. For decades our country has invested in innovation and technology.
In my riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla, we have the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre which has been working in partnership and has developed new food packaging technology which is very important for the agricultural sector. This will greatly increase the shelf life of produce and extend shipping times and open up new markets. This has huge economic potential for many regions, not just my own. We must be able to protect our intellectual property and capital.
I submit those costs required for our Internet providers to be able to take action against online criminals far outweigh the investment required. We must ensure that we have online technology in our great country that can take action to protect Canadians. Some critics suggest we should be concerned about granting new powers to the police. However, when we read Bill C-30 it is clear that the changes being contemplated in the bill would not actually create new powers for the police at all. Rather, they would ensure that existing policing tools, which have existed in some cases for decades, would also apply to the online community. The question we should be asking is why some interests think the Internet should be a safe haven immune from any type of oversight whatsoever.
In closing, I will leave this thought with the House. Our future is increasingly online. Perhaps that is one point in the debate on which all of us can agree. If we are truly to protect the interests of Canadians and keep our country strong, then I submit we must overcome our partisan differences and respect that protecting the private information of Canadians online is in the national interest of our great country. The criminals, hackers, the anonymous of the cybercrime world have already proven they can access that information without incident. Is it not time that we ensured that law enforcement had these same basic abilities as well? I submit that it is. I would like to thank my colleagues in the House for being part of this important debate.
Ms. Judy Foote (Random—Burin—St. George's, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor.
I rise to speak to the Liberal opposition day motion introduced by our leader, calling on the House to recognize the fundamental right of all Canadians to freedom of speech, communication and privacy. The motion is in response to the Conservative government's invasive Bill C-30.
If Canada is to remain a truly democratic society, it must strike the correct balance between security and civil liberties and individual rights and freedoms. As written, Bill C-30 does not ensure a balance among those principles.
At the outset, the Conservatives demonstrated their disregard for Canadian civil liberties and individual rights. Rather than sit down and discuss with Canadians and have an honest debate about the strengths and weaknesses of Bill C-30, the government attempted to irresponsibly frame the debate in rhetoric.
The Minister of Public Safety even went so far as to berate one of my colleagues, who was merely bringing the concerns of countless Canadians into the debate, by telling him that he, “can either stand with us or with the child pornographers”.
Attempts to demonize opponents of Bill C-30, many of whom are in my riding as well, and characterize them as friends of child pornographers is not only reckless, but completely unwarranted. The Minister of Public Safety still has not apologized for offending those Canadians who have difficulty with some of the aspects of Bill C-30.
Understandably, Canadians from coast to coast to coast do not trust the government with their personal information. After all, the Conservatives do not exactly have a glowing track record when it comes to managing the personal information of individual Canadians.
Through creeping individual's Facebook accounts and using personal profile information to restrict Canadians from attending public election rallies, sifting through personal medical records of veterans who asked too many questions or inappropriately using voter identification databases to make robocalls that are all about election fraud, the government has worked hard to earn the mistrust of Canadians.
In its current form, Bill C-30 forces Internet service providers to track, save and hand over Canadians' personal subscriber information, including their email and IP addresses, upon request without a warrant. This means that the Prime Minister's people would now have the legal right to monitor the emails of Canadians and track their movements online without any kind of judicial discretion.
The Conservatives destroyed the critical long from census because they claimed it was too intrusive into the personal lives of Canadians. Yet they now propose legislation that encroaches deep into the lives of Canadians and treats all Internet users as criminals. There are innocent Canadians out there.
The public outcry from Canadians and the Liberal Party, following the introduction of Bill C-30, forced the government to admit its legislation was far from perfect and it took the unusual step of shepherding its own legislation to committee before being debated so it could be fixed. The government has said that it will consider amendments from the opposition, and we welcome that.
Unfortunately, that is the same government that has abused its majority at committees to conduct business behind closed doors, making committee business the most secretive it has ever been and requests to do otherwise continue to fall on deaf ears. If the government forces the committee behind closed doors, it can oppose the reasonable and fair amendments that Liberals will be proposing without any public oversight, and this is a serious concern.
Sending Bill C-30 straight to committee for amendments is an important first step in admitting that Bill C-30 is highly flawed, but actions speak louder than words. The true measure of the Conservative government's commitment will be tested and witnessed during the committee proceedings. If the Conservatives truly believe that Canadians have the right to determine how their personal information is handled, then the Conservatives should be forthcoming and accept Liberal amendments at committee.
Canadians, including my constituents in Random—Burin—St. George's, are listening with interest and taking note of the debate over Bill C-30. One of my constituents aptly described the bill when he said, “This bill is a total invasion of privacy”.
Another constituent wrote to tell me that he was concerned about the legislation. He said, “This would be a breach of the basic human rights of all Canadians. It almost goes without saying that giving this kind of power to any institution is ripe for potential abuse”. He goes on further to state, “Not only that, we citizens, will have to pay for it out of our taxpayers wallets. There is also the dangerous potential of criminals having another gateway for hacking into people's accounts”.
Another constituent wrote to me to say that he was equally concerned about the legislation, writing “The online spying ("Lawful Access") bills are poorly thought out, and irresponsibly allow a range of authorities to access my personal data without a warrant”.
A different constituent from my riding went further saying, “Unchecked mass surveillance is a breach of my fundamental right to privacy”.
These are just a few examples of the correspondence that I have received. It is what Canadians are saying, and I am sure all members in the House are hearing the same thing from coast to coast to coast. I have yet to receive a letter in support of Bill C-30.
Privacy is a fundamental freedom enshrined in our charter and Canadians have every right to be worried about heightened surveillance of their online activities. Warrantless use of personal information is an inappropriate violation of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Liberals are seriously concerned that the lack of judicial oversight in the bill relating to subscriber data and that forcing ISP and telecomm providers to have the capacity to trace all communications in their system could create a very slippery slope.
For example, Canada's Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, agrees. Her office, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, is charged with overseeing compliance with both the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. Exercising her mission to protect and promote the privacy rights of individuals, last October she wrote the Minister of Public Safety detailing her concerns with the government's lawful access proposal. She said:
|| I am...concerned about the adoption of lower thresholds for obtaining personal information from commercial enterprises. The new powers envisaged are not limited to specific, serious offences or urgent or exceptional situations. In the case of access to subscriber data, there is not even a requirement for the commission of a crime to justify access to personal information – real names, home address, unlisted numbers, email addresses, IP addresses and much more – without a warrant.
Apart from what we are hearing from Canadians throughout the country, this is coming from the Privacy Commissioner.
The government must ensure the protection of the online privacy rights of law-abiding Canadians. Again, there are innocent Canadians out there. The warrantless tracking of Canadians' online activity would unfairly treat all Canadian online users as criminals.
Through Bill C-30, the omnibus crime Bill C-10, Bill C-4 and others, the government has raised serious questions about whether they respects the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Liberals will be focused at committee, finding logical solutions that strike the correct balance between public safety and privacy.
Mr. Scott Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I am not sure the debate is actually finished over here. As a child, I used to think that sitting in the corner of a room had no excitement whatsoever. Since coming here to the House of Commons, the corner of this House is quite exciting, quite frankly. The debates are quite vigorous, if not to say less entertaining.
I am grateful to be allowed a few moments to speak to this particular motion. I do want to extend my congratulations to all who have spoken here today on this particular measure that has been thrust upon us in the past little while and, certainly, created a lot of attention across this country. The electronic data that has moved around this country and the world, for that matter, regarding this bill has been quite substantial and come at a time when we should probably have this debate before considering the bill at committee, in this case before second reading.
A lot of people have asked me about the ramifications of that. I say that I applaud the government for sending the bill to committee before second reading because, fundamentally, by doing so it is now allowing substantial amendments to be made before second reading. The problem otherwise, if it goes to second reading first, is that if we have a debate in the House and vote on it, we then have to accept the principles of the bill. The majority of the House would do that. Subsequent to that, any amendments coming forward could be ruled out of order by the Speaker if these go against the fundamental principles and the scope of the bill in question, that being Bill C-30.
Therefore, I am glad that the current motion is being debated today, because without that motion we would not have had the opportunity to debate the bill in the House before it went to committee. The government says it wants to expedite this, to put it through committee and to have a fruitful conversation about this. Certainly, I would like to have this debate in the House before we send the bill to committee, because if we send the bill to committee before second reading, it means that we then have the ability as the House of Commons to enact legislation with major amendments that cannot be quashed by the Speaker or anyone else in the House. The procedure dictates that we can make substantial changes. Why not have a debate in the House that precedes anything going to committee?
The House recognizes the fundamental right of all Canadians to the freedoms of speech, communication and privacy, and that there must be a clear affirmation of the need for these rights to be respected in all forms of communications.
We all know, as my hon. colleague for Lac-Saint-Louis pointed out earlier, that the technology involved here is evolving now on a monthly basis. We talked about every 10 or 15 years when I first got here in 2004. In those days it was changing every four or five years. Now it seems to be changing every year, certainly in the aspect of social media. We saw Facebook thrust upon the world in a very short period of time, and now of course Twitter as well in this situation.
When I first got here, politics was judged by eight-second soundbites. Now politics and political discourse are judged by 140 characters or less, so we can see how we have gone from the realm of broadcasting to the realm of social media. Now breaking news is a part of the Twitterverse. It is not necessarily a part of the 24/7, 500-channel universe any more. We have now pushed ourselves into that.
However, let us bear in mind that the social media is doing something in addition to what was done in the old days of the 500-channel universe. Not only do we receive information at a moment's notice when it happens, or instantaneously, we are also now providing that information instantaneously, at a moment's notice, in the heat of the moment, whatever it may be. Nonetheless, we are not using traditional ways, with the exception of telephone, I guess, of sending information to people with whom we are in contact. We are now using electronic media to such a great extent that a lot of information is being put through private companies such as ISPs, and thus a vast amount of our lives, secret or not, is now transported through electronic data. Therefore, the ability to look into this is a lot more invasive than it used to be, if indeed the intention is to get all of the information that is out there about a particular person.
Sometimes people disseminate information that does not pertain to their intent. Per the example used earlier by my colleague from Lac-Saint-Louis, someone with a cellphone can transport pictures at a protest and the authorities have the ability to look into the transmission of these photos at particular protests, even when the person concerned is an innocent bystander and not an active participant, and not doing anything nefarious, but simply present and transmitting what is happening.
I return to the motion that we moved in the House: “That the House recognize...that Canadians who have expressed deep concerns about Bill C-30 should not be described as being friends of child pornography or advocates of criminal activity; that the Charter is the guarantor of the basic rights and freedoms of all Canadians; and that the Charter is paramount to any provision of the Criminal Code of Canada; and accordingly the House calls on the Prime Minister to ensure that any legislation put forward by his government respects the provisions of the Charter and its commitment to the principles of due process, respect for privacy and the presumption of innocence”.
The point about the presumption of innocence is a good one, because it seems to have been lost in all of this. When the Minister of Public Safety caused a huge fuss in the media about our being either on the side of them or others, that is what I fear about discourse and debate in the House. We now state things in absolute terms. In other words, we are saying to people that it is a black and white situation when in fact it is not. We are dealing with a very complex piece of legislation that has to receive a fair amount of discussion, debate and input from those across the country to allow us to have strong opinions, but at least our strong opinions are well-informed.
The throwing around of labels at the very beginning of debate is what bothers me. I use that as an example, but let us not kid ourselves and instead recognize that all 308 members of Parliament have fallen into that trap on occasion. We need to be honest with ourselves. Sometimes we have to pull back from that. Sometimes a simple apology is overdue and perhaps sometimes we should have that mature debate to allow ourselves to delve into the issues. I hear members talk about mature debate all the time, but for some reason it never happens. They may have a point: it is time for us to practise what we preach. Having this debate in the House on these particular measures is worthy of note. A debate in the House before we send it to committee and second reading is essentially what we are aiming for.
I congratulate the member for Toronto Centre for doing such and I congratulate anyone who speaks to this issue because it is of great importance.
Several experts have highlighted some of the key components of the legislation that are troublesome. On the one hand, we do want the police to have the tools to exercise their jobs. I know many police in my riding would agree with that and would like to have these tools. Then we have section 8 of the charter, which we are referring to when we say that people have a right to privacy in this country. Some of the people who have written about that include Michael Geist, who says:
|| While some of that information may seem relatively harmless, the ability to link it with other data will often open the door to a detailed profile about an identifiable person. Given its potential sensitivity, the decision to require disclosure without any oversight should raise concerns within the Canadian privacy community.
Jennifer Stoddart, as my hon. colleague from Random—Burin—St. George's pointed out as well, also had the same reservations about it.
The intent of the bill is one that has to be looked at as well. When the government puts out a public safety message and allows a transition period of 18 months and reduces the requirements for smaller service providers for the first three years, that is all great and fine, but not only do we have the ability to do this technologically but we also need the ability to debate it and make sure that we are doing the right thing before we realize that we have to go back and make changes.
Mr. Robert Goguen (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Delta—Richmond East.
I am pleased to rise today to address the motion. Bill C-30 provides law enforcement and national security agencies with the necessary tools to conduct their investigations in a world where telephone calls and ordinary email are being replaced by constantly changing communications technology. Even though its main objective is to ensure that the criminal justice system keeps pace with these changes and new criminal techniques, the government is paying attention to the concerns expressed about privacy and certain investigative techniques.
For that reason, we made considerable efforts to consult Canadians and stakeholders. These consultations went on for years and included discussions with the federal and provincial privacy commissioners. This allowed us to craft the bill before us today. I can assure you that each of the investigative powers set out in the bill was carefully developed with privacy considerations in mind.
We are talking here about new measures that precisely guarantee the privacy of personal information. However, it seems that some people fear that the bill will change the fundamental way in which Canadians' privacy is protected and that it will give the police wide-ranging new powers that will give them free access to our private lives.
These concerns are unfounded. In certain cases, people may have misunderstood the complex proposals designed to take into account increasingly modern means of telecommunications. I would like to assure all the members of the House and all Canadians that the purpose of Bill C-30 has never been to intercept Canadians' private communications and telecommunications. Bill C-30 was never designed to monitor Canadians' Web activity or to prevent them from sending emails anonymously. The purpose of Bill C-30 has always been to ensure that law enforcement agencies are able to stay on top of new communication technologies.
In response to these concerns, I would like to present some facts. Since the 1970s, Canadian police have been able to intercept private communications when given a court's authorization to do so, under the Criminal Code. In such cases, the judge has to be convinced that justice would be best served if the communication were intercepted and that the police tried other investigative methods but were unsuccessful. It is only in rare and urgent circumstances, such as a kidnapping or bomb threat, where time is of the essence, that law enforcement agencies are able to intercept private communications without a judge's authorization.
The bill does not change this approach at all. In fact, the bill proposes additional protective measures that go above and beyond the provisions of the Criminal Code related to the authorization of interception in exceptional circumstances, which are set out in section 184.4.
I would like to clear up another misconception, namely that law enforcement agencies and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service will be able to obtain basic subscriber information. Law enforcement and national security officers are already authorized to request subscriber information from service providers. However, that information is shared by the service providers on a strictly voluntary basis and there are very few monitoring and review mechanisms at this time. This approach is problematic because some service providers hand over the information on request, while others take a long time doing so or simply refuse to co-operate.
As a result, we have a discretionary and inconsistent system across the country, which threatens the safety of Canadians. The bill proposes a fair and uniform process that will facilitate access to basic subscriber information when needed. It also provides for a solid reporting and verification system, which is currently lacking.
Access to basic subscriber information, such as names and postal and electronic addresses, is especially important when computer technology is involved, because criminals use the Internet to conduct their activities anonymously.
A 2011 investigation into a case of child exploitation on the Internet in my province, New Brunswick, was delayed by more than six months because the authorities had difficulty obtaining basic subscriber information from a service provider. When they finally obtained the desired information, the authorities learned that an adolescent from the region had been the victim of abuse by the suspect. This type of situation is unacceptable.
With Bill C-30, not only will we prevent this type of situation, but we will be implementing various mechanisms to ensure the accountability of those who access the basic subscriber information. Again, this is a measure that does not yet exist.
The bill will require the authorities to keep a log of all requests for access to basic subscriber information, to conduct verifications and to produce regular reports.
What is more, the bill reinforces the role of watchdogs like the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada in ensuring an audit of the agencies under their jurisdiction.
The bill also compels the authorities to issue a written notice when using wiretapping in their investigations in exceptional circumstances and to produce a report in that regard.
These obligations already exist for other activities, including wiretaps authorized by the Criminal Code, and it is only logical to also implement them in this case.
As for electronic surveillance, in addition to ministerial approval, checks and balances are already in place to ensure accountability for the law enforcement agencies that exercise these exceptional powers. For instance, the individuals designated under sections 185, 186 and 188 of the Criminal Code must obtain authorization from a judge in order to intercept private communications, and this goes for each case under investigation. Evidence must be submitted under oath during any criminal proceedings that result from investigations. The Minister of Public Safety must present an annual report on any interceptions relating to an offence for which proceedings may be commenced by or on behalf of the Attorney General of Canada. This report, based on the information provided by police forces, must be presented to Parliament pursuant to the legislation.
Any time important rights are at stake, such as a person's reasonable expectations of privacy, it is in everyone's interest to know when and how investigative powers like the one in question are used.
Collecting data and statistics regarding the exercise of these investigative powers will help us to inform the public and determine usage practices so we can amend them as needed.
We do not have to choose between safety and respect for our rights. We need to find a balanced, happy medium. Our government believes that this bill achieves this balance. However, we also believe that Parliament has a duty to examine this bill in order to ensure that this balance was in fact achieved. We hope it will be examined in a non-partisan environment without any misinformation from the opposition parties.
Ms. Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to respond to the motion. As my previous colleagues have stated, the hon. Minister of Justice is required to inform the House of Commons of any legislation introduced that is not compliant with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I would like to emphasize this point. The Minister of Justice believes that Bill C-30 does not violate any of our charter rights.
Does that mean Bill C-30 will have absolutely no effect on the privacy rights of Canadians? Of course not. Any legislation that gives police new investigative powers will necessarily impact upon the privacy of Canadians. What is important, however, is whether the impact on privacy is justified to ensure the public safety of our country.
Our government firmly believes that we have proposed legislation to ensure Canada's laws adequately protect Canadians online, without breaching their constitutional rights. All of the new powers were carefully tailored to ensure that the proper level of scrutiny, whether it is transparency or oversight, was built into the specific powers sought.
I would like to remind hon. members on the other side of the House that similar legislation has not only been tabled by previous Liberal governments, in 2005, 2007 and 2009, as stated by others in this place as well, but the Liberals have supported these same changes with weaker oversight and weaker protections for privacy.
Bill C-30 is about providing police officers with the tools they need to fight crime today. It is about modernizing investigative techniques so they can catch those who would exploit technology for criminal purposes.
Thirty years ago computer crime was mostly a local crime that could be policed and prosecuted more or less in the same manner as traditional crimes. The Internet has changed that. The Internet is ubiquitous and so is computer-related crime. It knows no borders and we cannot investigate and prosecute it without the assistance of our international partners.
In fact, among the many things that Bill C-30 would do, it would allow Canada to ratify the Council of Europe convention on cybercrime. In order for Canada to ratify international treaties, it must first bring its law into conformity with the requirements of the instrument. In the case of this convention, for example, it requires a member state to have the ability to preserve computer data. Bill C-30 would respond to the requirement by creating the preservation order in Canadian law.
This convention, otherwise known as the Budapest convention, is the pre-eminent international treaty dealing with cybercrime. Canada was among the countries that negotiated this treaty and was instrumental to the inclusion of the child pornography provisions contained within it.
By putting Canada in the position to ratify the Budapest convention, Bill C-30 would do two things. First, it would answer our need for increased international co-operation in this area. Second, it would enhance the safety of Canadians by providing our police officers with the tools they needed.
The convention, which requires states to adhere to relevant international human rights standards and to create certain baseline substantive offences and procedural powers, also provides states with a mechanism for international co-operation. This increased ability to co-operate with our friends in the area of cybercrime, and especially child pornography, will increase our success rate in capturing criminals who use international borders to stymie investigations.
Finally, 32 countries have already ratified this convention, including two of our most important partners, the United States and the United Kingdom. Further, Australia, another important Canadian ally, has been asked to accede to the convention. The importance of this convention is underscored by their participation.
Canada's ratification of this convention will extend the reach of Canadian law enforcement around the globe as more and more non-European countries seek accession. This ability will ensure that more cybercriminals are brought to justice and will make Canada a safer place, especially for our children.
I would like to reiterate what I have previously said. This legislation is not new to Parliament. I find it very ironic that the Liberal leader would table a motion in the House that criticizes legislation that his party previously supported and tabled when the Liberals were in government. As I have already stated, the previous Liberal legislation had weaker protections for the privacy of Canadians.
The Liberal Party is the last one that should lecture Parliament on how to better protect Canadians, while also ensuring the respect of their privacy. This is another clear example of the fact that the Liberals are completely void of values, principles and ideas. They simply adopt whichever position they think is popular on the issue of the day. This is not what Parliament is elected to do.
Our government expects Parliament to have a thorough debate and conduct a thorough review of our proposed legislation to ensure we strike the right balance between protecting Canadians from crime while respecting Canadians' privacy rights.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Vancouver Centre.
It is with pleasure that I stand today to address what is an important motion. I hope and suspect that Conservatives, along with New Democrats, will join us in recognizing just how important it is with regard to our charter and privacy-related issues.
The bill that we are obviously citing at great length is Bill C-30, and we do that for a good reason. Even the government would acknowledge that it blew it. The government received overwhelming kickback from the public in regard to how it messed up in terms of what it proposed in Bill C-30.
The Prime Minister is not known to back down even when he is wrong. He has had an awakening of sorts in regard to just how outraged Canadians are with respect to this issue. We do give him some credit for acknowledging that outrage and how he is now prepared to send Bill C-30 to committee.
One of my colleagues reminded me that under the Conservative government committee meetings end up being held in camera. The Conservatives hold them in camera because they do not want the public to know what is being debated inside a committee. When the government says that it wants a meeting in camera, that is just a nice way of saying the public does not get to participate, that it does not get to listen to what is being said behind those closed doors. No government has ever had more in camera sessions in such a short time span as the new majority Conservative government.
We know how stubborn the Conservatives are when it comes to making changes. We can tell them that they have made mistakes, but would they recognize those mistakes? It takes a great deal of convincing.
All we have to do is look at Bill C-10. The Liberal Party brought forward amendments at committee stage, but the government voted against those amendments. It did not want anything to do with them. What happened? Conservative senators brought in the amendments because the government, in its stubborn way, did not recognize how important those amendments were. I am sure the government is a bit embarrassed now.
We are glad that the government has seen the wisdom of bringing Bill C-30 to committee before it is debated in the House. That is why there is strong merit to looking at today's opposition day motion as a statement. I look forward to a Conservative member standing and assuring us that there will not be any in camera sessions when Bill C-30 goes to committee, that the meeting will be open to all those individuals who want to follow the debate. We anxiously await hearing that sort of commitment.
The Conservatives talk about the rights of victims as if they have a vested interest in protecting the rights of victims. Just because they repeat it many times does not necessarily mean they have any more interest in the rights of victims than members of the opposition. Not only are we interested in the rights of victims, we are also interested in protecting people from becoming victims in the first place. That is why we believe in addressing some of the issues that fight crime. We do so to prevent victims in the first place. The Conservatives do not own the moral high ground when it comes to protecting the rights of victims.
The Conservatives say that they want to protect law-abiding citizens. I would suggest that one of the ways they could do that is by supporting the Liberal Party motion before us today.
I will read what the motion says so that members can reflect on it between now and the time to vote.
|| That the House recognize: (a) the fundamental right of all Canadians to the freedoms of speech, communication and privacy, and that there must be a clear affirmation on the need for these rights to be respected in all forms of communication; (b) that the collection by government of personal information and data from Canadians relating to their online activities without limits, rules, and judicial oversight constitutes a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms' protections against unreasonable search and seizure.
If the Conservatives are sincere when they say that they want to protect law-abiding citizens, I would suggest that voting for this motion would go a long way in protecting their rights.
The Internet has grown as a tool in many different ways. I think that we underestimate the role it plays in the lives of Canadians. I have heard statistics that Canadians have access to and use the Internet like no other country in the world. We have seen the benefits of the Internet. We can look at the social groups of Facebook and others to see how well utilized they are. We can appreciate how many people today bank online and purchase online. The Internet is used every day by a vast majority of Canadians. It has become a part of our lives.
It is interesting that NDP members and Conservatives have joint speaking notes. They bring up those speaking notes because they are a little sensitive to the Liberal Party being practical and wanting to protect the rights of individuals. Therefore, they pull out their speaking notes, whether New Democrat or Conservative, to say that the Liberals proposed in 2002, 2005 and 2007. I think I might have even heard another year.
Gee whiz, yes, the Liberal Party does have a proactive approach to bringing legislation forward. The difference is that we are also open to ideas, amendments and changes, which is something the current government has never demonstrated. Hopefully the NDP will never be provided the opportunity to govern. I will not preclude what Canadians might ultimately decide, but I have seen NDP administrations in my own province and I can talk about disappointments in this area.
They talk the line of wanting to protect the interests of Canadians. Well, the Liberal Party has overriding concerns and we would say to members of other political entities, Green, New Democrat or Conservative, to go back before 2002. They should go back to 1981 and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that guarantees privacy.
The vast majority of Canadians want just cause and having to go to a judge, which could take a half hour or whatever amount of time it takes. We do not underestimate the capabilities of law enforcement or our courts. There are wonderful people who work within our law enforcement industry and court infrastructure who can expedite the process. They can make it happen quickly if the need is there. Let us not override how important it is to protect the rights of individuals to their privacy.
Hon. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, what is fundamental about this opposition day motion that the Liberals are bringing in has to do with democracy. A democratic society has due process, rule of law and all of the fundamentals that come with a democratic society, and an independent judiciary. We do not want to live in a country in which the state has all the power and individuals have absolutely no rights. That is why we reference the Charter of Rights and Freedoms here. It is the main bill under which every single piece of legislation must flow. The charter tries to find a balance, which is what we are talking about here, between the rights of individuals to privacy and their own sense of personal integrity, and the security of the state.
How do we find that balance? How do we, in the name of security of the state, find a way to ensure that we at the same time do not trample on the rights of individuals? That is where process comes in. That is where the rule of law comes in. In any democratic society, there are some very fundamental processes we must look at, such as an independent judiciary, due process and rule of law, as well as freedom of expression and freedom of the media, whether it be the Internet or any other kind of media.
There was a time when a very famous Liberal prime minister spoke about the state not getting into the bedrooms of the nation. We can extend that to say that there has to be a limit to the state getting into the hard drives of the nation. If there is a reason to suspect that individuals are guilty of criminal activity, treason or any other kind of terrorism or act against the state, there is due process. I want to give an example of why this bill goes so far and in fact would violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Recently there was a widely publicized, huge sting operation with respect to a child pornography ring in Canada. The police were highly successful, as 22 people were charged, 75 charges were laid, 25 search warrants were obtained, and 16 communities across Ontario were fingered. However, it was done under due process of law. There was reason to suspect and warrants were given. The police officers found a way to do that under the current Criminal Code, and under due process of law. We know, therefore, the process of law is working well. When individuals are suspected, the necessary tools are there and working.
I have just come back from Vienna where I was at a meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. We were talking about repressive regimes that have flouted due process of law to pick people up on trumped-up charges without any presumption at all or proof of guilt, put them into prisons and torture them. Canada was very firmly opposed to this. A big part of what we are looking at in terms of the OSCE is to create democratic societies.
Canada cannot on the one hand speak against something in the real world, saying that we are opposed to it and support democracy and the rule of law and then on the other hand at home take this insidious way to undercut the rule of law and suggest that there are bogeymen under every bed. We cannot afford to do that in this country. If we are going to have credibility in the world because we stand up for freedom of speech and the rights of individuals, stand against terrorism, support security of the state and do so under due process of law and independent judiciary, then we need to do it here at home. We cannot have two standards. Canada cannot do one thing at home and say another thing abroad. That is what we are talking about.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms should be a template. It should be a benchmark against which we hold up everything we hope to do in terms of rule of law in this country to see whether it stands up to the charter or violates it. That is what a judiciary looks at when looking at any kind of legislation. The Parliament of a land does not supersede the rule of law. The Parliament of the land is driven by the rule of law. It must succumb to the rule of law itself.
Therefore, we cannot have what we see happening here. When people oppose this kind of violation of the rule of law, we cannot decide that those people are wrong, that they belong with a group of criminals, that they are crooks, pornographers or whatever they call them. There is a standard by which a state must judge its own citizens. We live in a free and democratic society where civil society and opposition parties can oppose what they feel is an infringement of the rule of law, an infringement of democracy. However, when they do oppose, it is not right that they are then subjected to all kinds of suspicious language and people who say that they belong to some kind of subversive group or a criminal activity is going on within those groups.
That is what happens in oppressive regimes, such as in Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine. At certain points in time, their leaders are thrown into jail because they happen to belong to the opposition and disagree with the government. We cannot do that in this country. We have stood as a bastion throughout the world as a country that believes in democratic principles and the rule of law.
There is no need for this kind of bill. We have a process and it works. If the police, a member of CSIS or a minister is suspicious of an activity going on, he or she can go to a judge who will, as an independent person in a democratic society, say that it sounds good and that he or she will issue a warrant to seize. However, to do this at the whim of the police, of the minister or of CSIS, tells us that we believe there are certain institutions that are above the law. There is no institution that is above the rule of law in this country. We also cannot go around as a state spying on our citizens for no reason at all. If we have a good reason, it will stand up to a warrant.
We cannot try this new thing in which a minister would make a decision and then would ask an ISP to have technology to tap into someone's Internet. We do not do that with phone tapping. There must to be a warrant for phone tapping and due process must be observed. I keep repeating the words “due processes” because I am talking about democracy and the rule of law. I am trying to get the government to not run away with the idea that because it has a majority it is bigger than anything else, that it has suddenly become a dictatorship and that it does not need to answer to anyone for anything.
This is one of the things that concerns many of us. We hear that the government, having realized that it went too far, is saying that it will send the bill to committee and listen to the amendments. I must say that, since we have come back under a majority government, the committees have been hijacked by the government. Under the rules of Parliament, the committees must make their own decisions about what they will study and what they will do. They are the authors of their own destiny and their own agenda. This is not happening anymore. If anyone dares to speak out or to bring forward a motion at committee that the government does not wish to have, the meeting immediately goes in camera and nobody knows what is going on. This is government thinking that committees and the institution of Parliament in a democratic society is an extension of government. It is not. It is a democratic entity unto itself and this kind of stuff needs to stop.
The government came into power saying that it would look at smaller government, that it would stay out of the lives of people and that it would not encroach. Here we have a government that is tearing up the gun registry and the names of people. It is cancelling the gun registry because it does not want to get into the private lives of its citizens and yet with Bill C-30 it would be snooping into the private lives of its citizens without due process. This is what we are talking about. If this legislation is actually conforming with the rule of law, it would not violate the charter, which is what it is currently doing.
I would ask the government to stick to the principles of democracy, listen to the amendments, be guided by them and, if they are good, adopt them. It should not try to suggest to the world that it is listening to the committee and having amendments but then voting against them and using its majority to stop any kind of change whatsoever. I appeal to the government to go back to the principles of democracy, start behaving, start listening to what it hears from the opposition and to start respecting Parliament and the rule of law.