Mr. Randy Hoback (Prince Albert, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak about Bill C-13, the protecting Canadians from online crime act, which would update the Criminal Code to respond to the pernicious issue of cyberbullying. Bill C-13 achieves this goal by proposing new criminal offences of distribution of intimate images without the consent of the persons depicted.
Further, to ensure that police are properly equipped to investigate and enforce the proposed new offences and other criminal offences that involve the use of the Internet or that leave behind electronic evidence, the bill also proposes to modernize the Criminal Code's investigative tools. Similar modernization updates are being done to the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act and the Competition Act to ensure that they remain responsive and relevant to the requirements of modern technology.
The bill has received considerable attention in the media, including for the proposed amendments to the investigative tools. I would like to focus my remarks on those elements of Bill C-13 that deal with the investigative tools amendments.
It is not uncommon to hear people talking about how technology has changed their lives. The Internet allows us to book airline tickets from the comfort of our homes, at any time of day or night. GPS systems allow us to get from Montreal to Saskatoon without a road map and without stopping to ask for directions. It has also changed the way that we communicate with each other. Mobile phones keep us connected to each other no matter where we are, and text messaging has made communications so fast and cheap that it is easy to stay in touch with people halfway around the world.
Canadians are world leaders when it comes to using the Internet. In 2012, 83% of Canadians over the age of 16 used the Internet in their personal lives, and that number continues to rise. The possibilities and opportunities that these technologies open up for us are nothing short of incredible. However, just as these technologies can be used to bring people together, they can be used for nefarious ends. Technology can facilitate a wide range of criminal behaviour, including the sexual exploitation of children, identity fraud and, as we have seen most recently, serious forms of cyberbullying.
Technology has also introduced us to new crimes that simply did not exist before there were computers. Crimes like computer hacking and denial of service attacks have been added to the criminal justice lexicon.
Technology has changed the types of evidence that are left behind after a crime has been committed. Previously, a telephone number may have revealed the identity of a suspect; this information may now be found in the transmission data of an email. Conspiracies can be created in online chat rooms, and people even speak of electronic fingerprints.
It is time to update the offences in the Criminal Code to reflect these new ways of committing old crimes, as is the case when we think about bullying versus cyberbullying. The amendments in Bill C-13 would update the investigative powers in the Criminal Code and the Competition Act to ensure that investigators have the tools they need to deal with the evidence in this new technological environment.
Some of the proposed Criminal Code modernization amendments found in Bill C-13 would update existing offences, while some of them would update existing investigative tools or create new ones.
With regard to the existing Criminal Code offences, Bill C-13 proposes to update the crimes of conveying false information, indecent communications, and harassing telephone calls found in section 372. Currently these three offences contain language related to outdated technologies, such as the telephone and telegraph. With the proposed amendments, these same acts would be punishable when committed using email, text messaging, or any means of telecommunications.
As much of the prohibited conduct in section 372 is currently relevant to traditional bullying, for example, repeated and harassing phone calls, the proposed amendments would ensure that these offences are also responsive to cyberbullying.
Further, the bill proposes minor updates to other Criminal Code offences. The amendments are part of the government's efforts to modernize the Criminal Code as it relates to new technologies. For example, amendments to the offence of possession of a device to obtain telecommunications services are also being made to another possession offence in the Criminal Code in relation to the possession of computer hacking tools. These amendments make the two similar provisions consistent with each other and, in an effort to increase transparency, update them to reflect the current jurisprudence in the areas that hold that a device includes a computer program.
On this particular issue, it has been very wrongly reported in the media that Bill C-13 proposes to criminalize the theft of cable signals. In fact, the theft of cable signals has been in the Criminal Code since 1960.
As to Bill C-13's proposed modernization of investigative tools, these amendments are designed to target electronic devices and tailored to ensure minimal intrusion on privacy and civil liberties.
There has been some confusion about some of the investigative tools included in the bill. I hope to dispel some of these myths today as I explain the rationale and the reasoning behind these necessary changes to the criminal law.
First, the bill proposes two new tools aimed at preserving volatile electronic evidence. They are called preservation demand and preservation orders. I would like to emphasize that preservation should not be confused with data retention schemes.
Nothing in this legislation would require Internet service providers to collect everyone's information and keep it on hand indefinitely. A preservation demand or order would require a person or a business that is not the target of the investigation to preserve a prescribed set of computer data, for example, an intimate image found on a website. The data could be preserved only for a limited amount of time in association with a specific investigation.
A good way to think of this particular tool is as a “do not delete” order; it simply asks the person to preserve or save the information already in his or her possession for a limited period of time. This tool is essential to enable the police to conduct effective investigations in the area where crucial evidence can be deleted with a simple keystroke.
The preservation demand or preservation order would provide the police with enough time to go to a judge and get the warrants or orders needed to obtain the highly volatile evidence. The police can do this without fear that the data they need will be lost or deleted, either intentionally or inadvertently as a matter of regular business practices, during the period that it takes to obtain a warrant or production order for that data.
The duration of the preservation order would be limited to 21 days for domestic investigations and 90 days for international ones. This means that if a police officer does not get the court order or a warrant obtained for the preserved data before the demand expires, that data would not be retained in the ordinary course of business and would be destroyed. The data would not be provided to the police without a court order or warrant.
If the duration of the preservation order needs to be extended, the police would have to return to a judge or justice to obtain a preservation order. The police would then be given up to 90 days to get the production order or a warrant to obtain the data that has been preserved. If the police do not get the production order or the warrant by the time the preservation order expires, the person in possession of the preserved data is required to destroy it, unless his or her business practices otherwise require that it be retained. This means that only specific computer data would be preserved under this scheme for a limited period of time and only for the purpose of an investigation.
An even more fundamental privacy safeguard of the scheme is that the computer data that would not otherwise be kept by a business would be destroyed as soon as it is no longer needed for an investigation.
These safeguards exemplify our efforts to respect privacy throughout the bill, and to respect privacy under Canadian law.
In addition to the preservation scheme, the bill proposes to update the existing production order regime. A production order is a judicial order that requires third parties, such as a bank, to provide the police with documents containing data in connection with an investigation. This is in contrast to a search warrant that would also be issued judicially but would allow the police to search for the material themselves.
There are currently two types of production orders in the Criminal Code. These are production orders for a very particular type of basic financial information, such as the status and type of bank account, as well as the more general production order for any type of data that might be needed to conduct an investigation.
Often the requirements of an investigation are quite targeted, and general production orders could provide the police with a lot more information than they require in certain circumstances. In those cases, it makes sense to have specific tools, such as a financial data production order, that would allow the police to obtain the specific data they are looking for and that are designed to reflect the expected privacy associated with that particular type of data.
One way of thinking about this kind of tailoring is as privacy with precision. Instead of using one big tool for every problem, we would be providing several tools that are more precisely suited to specific types of problems.
The bill proposes to retain two existing categories of production orders already found in the existing Criminal Code. In addition, it is proposing three more to deal with specific types of data associated with modern technology.
In particular, Bill C-13 proposes to create production orders for historic tracking data, which would permit police to determine, for example, the pattern of bank card usage for a period of time; historic data related to the routing of telecommunications, such as the time an email was sent, and to which address, which would be known as transmission data; and historic data designed to trace specific communications.
The last type of production order would be a very important tool to address the complexities of modern communication, as it would allow the police to trace the origin of communications that may have gone through several different service providers before it reached its destination.
Other changes that are being proposed in Bill C-13 would impact the existing tracking warrant provisions. This is different from the production order for tracking data which provides information about past movements.
Police have been able to get judicially authorization tracking warrants for over 20 years, which permit them to track the whereabouts of a person in real time. As one can imagine, technology has changed a lot in that time. Where police were once able to track people with limited accuracy, there are now technologies that can track objects much more precisely and closely.
Bill C-13 proposes to split the existing tracking warrant provisions into two types of warrants: one for tracking people, and one for tracking the location of a transaction or the movement of such things as a car.
The warrant for tracking things would continue to be available on the standard of reasonable grounds to suspect, like the existing tracking warrant provision. However, this legislation proposes to increase the threshold necessary to get a tracking warrant in the situation where people would be tracked. This would mean that when police officers apply to the judge or justice for a warrant to do this more continuous and accurate type of tracking, the officer would have to meet a higher test to convince the judge that the tracking warrant is needed.
This is a dual approach, which would allow the police to retain the efficiency of the lower threshold warrant while increasing the privacy protections in situations where the greater privacy interests are at play.
Another warrant provision which Bill C-13 is proposing to update is currently known as the number recorder warrant. This permits the police to monitor the phone numbers dialed from a particular telephone and the numbers which call a particular telephone.
Although it is true that some of us still use traditional telephones to communicate, few old-fashioned dialing mechanisms are still in use. An increasing number of Canadians are using smart phones, text messaging, email, and other high-tech methods to communicate. Police need to be able to capture the routing information that these new technologies produce, the same way that we can currently capture the phone numbers under existing warrants. The proposed transmission data recorder warrant and the new production order for transmission data would allow police to do just that.
Where police could previously only get the phone number of someone who was dialing, they would now be able to get parallel updated forms of communication destination information like email addresses as well. This would provide for much-needed modernization in this area, since technology has moved well beyond telephone dialing.
I think it is important to emphasize that this warrant would retain the Criminal Code's existing privacy protections. Neither the warrant nor the production order would allow police to obtain the content of people's emails, text messages, or phone calls. They would not even get the subject line of emails using this warrant. In essence, Bill C-13 would permit police to get information about where a communication is coming from or where it is going to. That is the only kind of information they are going to get with this warrant and production order.
Besides these new and improved investigative tools, Bill C-13 also proposes to clarify and safeguard the common law powers of police. Section 487.014 would be amended to remove the requirement for police to be administering or enforcing an act of Parliament before they can ask for information. The current wording has been creating problems for the police in performing everyday duties, such as getting information for the purpose of notifying a next of kin.
There has been some concern about this amendment removing the limits on what police can ask of persons who voluntarily provide information. Let me be clear. The common law powers of the police are rooted in legitimate police business, which is one limit. Further, the existing restrictions on the provider of the information would remain. They can only provide information that they are not otherwise prohibited by law from disclosing. Indeed, providers of information will be governed by federal or provincial privacy legislation that will restrict the disclosure of personal information. To be clear, the primary purpose of this provision is to ensure that police do not need a production order every time they want to ask a question.
These amendments are the result of extensive consultations, both on the elements relating to the proposed new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images and on the modernization of investigative tools.
The proposals in Bill C-13 were recommended in recent federal, provincial, territorial reports on the issue on cyberbullying and non-consensual distribution of intimate images, which was released in July 2013 and supported by the federal, provincial, territorial ministers in November 2013.
The report strongly recommends both the proposed new offences and the reintroduction of the elements related to the modernization of investigative tools. The report also recommends that the enactment of new offences be supported by updated investigative tools.
Bill C-13 would provide police with a set of tools which would allow them to be effective and efficient in conducting a complex investigation in the modern world. This would apply to serious forms of cyberbullying, including the proposed new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images as well, or other offences that occurred in cases of cyberbullying, such as criminal harassment or extortion.
Our government is committed to combatting cybercrime in all forms. This bill is a necessary addition to the legislative tool kit.
When we look at the legislation, it is important that we really highlight the fact of what is going on. The reality is technology has changed, the environment in which our police services work in has changed, and they need modernization of the tools so they can go about doing the job they have been asked to do for many years.
We need to ensure they have access to the tools and the information, so we can still protect our families and our loved ones when they are victims of cyberbullying or cybercrime. When we see situations where someone is trying to entice someone to do something wrong, or when we see situations where people are being bullied or harassed, we will have the tools to prevent that from leading to something more serious.
It is important that we see proper legislation move forward. It is very important that we balance the privacy rights of the individuals with the rights of the police and the rights of the victim. The way this legislation is drafted, we have done just that. We will allow the data to be retained, but at the same time the police officers involved will have to receive the warrant before they can use the data. That is relevant and it makes a lot of common sense. I think a lot of Canadians would understand that.
I just hope that all members appreciate the importance of this bill. It is very important that we modernize our laws and our abilities to take advantage of new technologies as they become available, and to take on new criminal activities that are using the new technologies, ensuring we have the tools for our police officers to ensure these new technologies are not abused but are used for what they were originally intended, for public good.
I hope all members of the House will support the need for modern tools for modern times. Bill C-13 would provide just that. I look forward to questions.
Mr. Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I must start by thanking my NDP colleagues for allowing me to speak on Bill C-13 today, because as a result of the application of time allocation for what I think was the 58th time, many of my colleagues will not have an opportunity to speak on this bill. Despite all of my colleagues obviously being New Democrats, we are a very diverse caucus with different experiences, and we represent different kinds of ridings here in the House of Commons.
I have risen to speak in favour of Bill C-13, but I do so with some reservations.
Unfortunately, the bill is, in effect, yet another omnibus bill that mixes together many other issues with the one that should have been central—that is, bullying and cyberbullying. Instead we have a rather mixed bag of provisions instead of a focused response to the urgent challenges of bullying and cyberbullying.
Rather than trying to address all the issues in the bill, I want to focus my remarks today on two aspects: first, the need for effective action to combat bullying; second, the proposed amendment to the hate crime section of the Criminal Code which, surprisingly, also appears in the bill in clause 12.
Since 2011, we in this House have had several opportunities to act on the issues of bullying and cyberbullying, but unfortunately we have made little progress. Nearly 18 months ago my colleague, the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, put forward a motion, Motion No. 385, which called upon the federal government to develop a national strategy with concrete steps to combat bullying. Unfortunately, the Conservatives voted down the motion, dismissing it as a call for further study, when in fact it was a call for leadership from the federal government in the fight against bullying and cyberbullying.
Last summer, on June 17, the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-540, which would amend the Criminal Code in order to make the non-consensual making or distribution of intimate images a criminal offence. At that time, we asked the government to expedite passage of the bill in order to try to prevent further tragedies like the suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons, which took place as a result of cyberbullying. Unfortunately, the government preferred to wait for its own bill, which has delayed action on this critical issue for nearly a year.
What we have before us now in Bill C-13 is much narrower than a strategy to combat cyberbullying, though it does have some provisions similar to those the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour proposed many months ago.
We are, of course, supporting the bill going to committee, precisely because some legislative action against cyberbullying is necessary, but again I want to emphasize that focusing on bullying after the fact can only be part of the solution.
Today I want to reiterate two points I made when speaking 18 months ago in support of our motion for a national anti-bullying strategy. They relate to the pervasiveness of bullying in our society and to its amplification by the existence of new technologies.
The prevalence and pervasiveness of bullying in Canada is truly shocking. In fact, bullying is happening around us all the time. In one analysis of Toronto-area schools, it was found that a student is bullied every seven seconds.
Egale Canada conducted a survey of homophobia and transphobia in schools across Canada. It found that 74% of transidentified students, 55% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students, and 26% of non-LGBTQ students reported being verbally harassed. More than half of those reported that this bullying occurred on a daily or weekly basis.
One UBC study of students in grades 8 to 10 found that 64% of students reported they had been bullied. Even more saddening for me is their acceptance of that inevitability, because 64% of these same students said they found bullying to be a normal part of school life.
People are bullied for an almost infinite number of reasons, but almost all of those reasons are connected to hostility toward deviation from the perceived norm: for being too short, too tall, too fat, too thin; for where they were born, the colour of their skin, the language they speak at home; for having an accent, for the clothes they wear, for sexual orientation, for their gender, for their gender presentation, for what they are able to afford. The list goes on and on, but the result is always the same: creating a sense of exclusion for the victims of bullying.
As technology has advanced, so has the means of bullying, with social networking, smart phones, and the Internet becoming second nature to people in Canada, especially young people. So has utilizing these resources for bullying. As a result, bullying has become intensified and its impacts more widely distributed.
Bullying is no longer a problem that only happens at school, on the school bus, or on the playground. It is no longer just a workplace problem. It can now follow victims home and invade their lives 24 hours a day each and every day of the year.
The consequences of bullying and the effects of bullying need to be taken seriously. We all know that the impacts of bullying on youth can be drastic and long-lasting. Young people who are bullied are more likely to face depression. It is estimated that male victims of bullying are five times more likely, and females victims three times more likely, to be depressed than their non-bullied classmates.
People who are victims of bullying are more susceptible to low self-esteem and are more likely to suffer from anxiety and illnesses. Young people who are bullied are more likely to engage in substance abuse and self-harm, and in recent years we have seen the tragic rise in the trend toward youth bullycide. The list of those young people who have taken their own lives as a result of bullying is already too long, and unfortunately continues to grow.
The costs of bullying are found not just on its impact on individuals. Bullying has wider social costs. One study has found that of elementary school bullies, one in four will have a criminal record by the time they are 30 years old.
We can and must move beyond our platitudes and expressions of concern about bullying and not limit our responses only to actions taken after the damage has already been done.
We all know that these bullying behaviours are learned. People are not born with hearts full of hate. At the root of our response to bullying must be efforts to build a more open and accepting society. If there was a real intolerance for discrimination and hate, then bullying clearly would not be so pervasive.
We could make a good start by calling bullying what it really is. We need to recognize that most bullying is rooted in sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and classism. These are serious prejudices that most Canadians find unacceptable in theory, but for some reason they are deemed acceptable when they are expressed in the form of bullying.
The need for a broad strategy as well as for anti-bullying legislation is so obvious. Unfortunately, what we find in the rest of the bill is a mixed bag of only tangentially related provisions, some with no clear connection to the problem at all.
Some things in the bill have been brought forward from the previously failed Bill C-30, but fortunately in this version it looks as if the important principle of judicial oversight of police access to Internet communications may be preserved. I look forward to hearing from Canadians about this aspect again when the bill reaches committee.
One surprise in Bill C-13 was the inclusion of clause 12. This section proposes the addition of some important provisions to the hate crime section of the Criminal Code. I am at a loss to explain why this proposal has suddenly appeared in the bill, but I think it is a positive thing.
Bill C-13 suggests adding national origins, age, sex, and mental or physical disability to the existing provisions of the hate crime section of the Criminal Code. While the connection to the other aspect of the bill is not immediately obvious, as I said, I do believe this is a good thing, but what is missing from this section is gender identity. This House has twice voted in favour of adding gender identity to the hate crime section of the Criminal Code, yet it is not included in clause 12 of the bill.
My own private member's bill, Bill C-279, is still stuck in the Senate more than a year after being passed in this House, and while I remain hopeful it will be adopted soon, there is an obvious potential problem in the conflict between Bill C-13 and my own private member's bill. Unfortunately, if the Senate does pass Bill C-279, clause 12 of Bill C-13 would inadvertently undo half that progress. Bill C-13 in its present form would actually remove gender identity from the hate crime section of the Criminal Code if my private member's bill has already passed, so when we get to committee, we will be having a serious discussion about an amendment to add gender identity to fix this omission.
It was more than three years ago that this House, in a minority Parliament, voted to add gender identity to the hate crime section of the Criminal Code, and, as I said, more than a year ago we voted to do that in my own private member's bill, so I am hoping that this proposed amendment to the hate crime section was inadvertent in its omission of gender identity and that this omission can be fixed in committee.
Let me return to what I believe is the important question that should be at the centre of Bill C-13, which is that there is an urgent need for Parliament to provide national leadership in the fight against bullying.
Despite our concerns about the bill being an omnibus bill and despite many of the other things stuffed into Bill C-13, we are supporting sending the bill to committee so that we can continue the dialogue on the important issue of bullying and cyberbullying.
What is of concern to me, as I mentioned at the outset, is the attitude that has become prevalent on the other side of the House that when three or four members have spoken, it is time to end debate. The very root of the word “Parliament” means a place where we can talk about the important national issues.
I feel it is a great privilege to stand here and speak to Bill C-13 as a man who comes from the LGBTQ community, which suffers inordinately from bullying. I think I bring a perspective somewhat different from that of some other members of the House. As someone from Vancouver Island, where we have a lot of early adapters of new technology, I know we see huge problems of bullying and cyberbullying in local schools. Frankly, teachers are at their wits' end in trying to find ways to deal effectively with it.
One thing that has been common in the responses I have received is a warning that we not look simply to criminal sanctions for youth to combat cyberbullying and that criminalizing bullying for young people could in fact be a serious problem.
I come back to the idea that we cannot just focus on what happens after the bullying. We have to provide national leadership in coming up with ways to attack this problem before the damage actually takes place. Some may say that is not a federal responsibility, but it is in the sense that when bullying and cyberbullying reach their most vicious levels, they often result in criminal acts. Since the Criminal Code is the responsibility of this federal Parliament, then we do have a responsibility for crime prevention. I would argue very strongly that a national strategy to prevent bullying and cyberbullying is a matter of crime prevention.
On the other side of the House we hear a lot of discussion about victims. We share the concern for victims in Canadian society, but how can we do our best job in addressing the needs of victims? We can do that by preventing victimization. Once again, there is a responsibility for the House to look at what we can do to make sure that victims are not created through bullying and cyberbullying.
When we get to committee, I would ask members on the other side to keep an open mind about those other things that we can do. We do not need just to find criminal sanctions, although there are some things here that I agree are necessary and that will be useful in the most extreme cases, but there are many more things we can do to make this the Canada that we all love and believe is a great place that includes a space for all Canadians.
Unfortunately, the evidence of bullying and cyberbullying shows that is not always the case. Whether we are talking about immigrant communities and their desire to contribute to Canada fully or whether we are talking about the LGBTQ community and our desire to be accepted in Canadian society and play our role very fully or whether we are talking about those with disabilities who are often sidelined in our society, we have to take all the measures that we can to make our country more inclusive and make it one we can all be even prouder of than we are now.
How do we do that? I come back to this argument again and again. We put forward a motion calling for a national strategy to combat bullying and cyberbullying, and this is where Bill C-13 falls short. It has measures looking at what we can do after the fact to investigate criminal cases of bullying. It has measures to help apprehend those people who ultimately have performed criminal acts when it comes to bullying, but it does not have measures that would help reduce this problem in our society.
I will return to my concern over Bill C-279.
It is a difficult situation for some people to understand. My bill should have already passed through the Senate and should already be law. We now have a situation in which transgendered Canadians are subject to hate crimes and bullying and are the group most subject to violence of all groups in our society. If that private member's bill—which passed the House a year ago, as I said several times today—had already been passed, we would have some of the tools we need to combat the epidemic of violence against transgendered people in Canada.
Canada is not alone. Transgendered people are the most subject to violence everywhere around the world. I remain very sad that the Senate has taken so long to get down to business on passing Bill C-279. It held hearings and heard witnesses a year ago in June at the human rights committee. It essentially finished the process of examining the bill and found it acceptable; then, because of prorogation, the process had to start over.
I am at a loss to see why the bill has to go back to another committee, this time to a legislative and constitutional affairs committee. We have had the promise from the senators that they will take up the bill in committee soon; however, that promise was made in February and we are now in April.
I am emphasizing this in Bill C-13 because this is where the two bills come together: in clause 12 and those amendments to the hate crimes section of the Criminal Code that are in this bill but fail to include gender identity. We have this unfortunate grinding of gears between the two Houses here. If in committee we are able to add gender identity to Bill C-13, that would be a good thing, because as a government bill it would make its way through the Senate expeditiously. I have now begun to fear that Bill C-279 will face the same fate as the previous bill on transgender rights and that it will die in the Senate without action before the next election. If we can get half a loaf here in Bill C-13, I am prepared to work for that. I look for support from the other side in correcting what I hope was an inadvertent omission of gender identity from those amendments that are in clause 12.
When we go back to our ridings when Bill C-13 is in committee, I know that all of us will hear from members of our communities about the urgency of what we are doing, and I know we will hear again from the Conservatives about the urgency. However, I have to emphasize that we have had many opportunities since 2011 to actually take action on what I call “remedial actions”, those things that take place after the fact. Again, I remain disappointed that the Conservatives would not expedite the private member's bill from the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, and we could have already had the non-consensual distribution of sexual images in the Criminal Code by this time. We would not still be waiting for that to happen. Of course, we could have already had a committee that had prepared a national strategy with concrete actions to combat bullying and cyberbullying.
As we near the summer recess, I am hoping Bill C-13 will actually get through, but then it also would face the hurdle of the Senate. Would the Senate deal expeditiously with this bill? Would it actually get these provisions passed in a timely manner? I can only hope that it would, but the irony is that Bill C-13 would go to the Constitution and legal affairs committee of the Senate where my private member's bill is also supposed to be going. The chances of both getting through before we get to summer seems kind of small. We have both the broader group of all those who face bullying and the narrower group of those trans Canadians who are depending on the Senate to take effective action soon. However, that just does not seem to be the way the Senate proceeds.
An hon. member: It is a mystery.
Mrs. Cathy McLeod (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and for Western Economic Diversification, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-13, the protecting Canadians from online crime act.
I would like to first set out a bit of context in terms of where we have come from. Members might be aware that it was 25 years ago when the first test was done on the World Wide Web. We have to look at how far we have come in 25 years.
Facebook, a powerful tool, was introduced in 2004. I might be dating myself a bit, but I remember going to my first tutorial to learn about the World Wide Web, and it was very complicated. There were DOS commands and giant computers. Now we have the ability to take a picture with something the size of our palm and distribute it immediately around the world. That is an absolutely incredible change over a relatively short 25 years.
Before I go into the details of the bill and why it is so important, I need to reflect on the fact that this tool in some ways has been fabulous for Canadians and people around the world. I remember a colleague telling me how his grandmother in Argentina every night read a book over Skype to put his child to bed.
We have the ability to pay our bills by email. We have the ability to interact immediately with family around the world. It is much easier to keep those connections we treasure and value.
As politicians we have seen the dark side of the Internet. Anyone who has a Twitter account or a Facebook account regularly sees some of the very vicious comments that come in through those forums. As my colleague across the aisle just said, these comments are often anonymous and vicious. As politicians, we deal with that, but that is nothing compared to really overstepping the bounds and the issues some children and adults have had to deal with.
A quick Google search on cyberbullying immediately brings up hundreds of names. There is Ryan's story, Bronagh's story, and Megan's story. Look at Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd. Just recently we heard the she allegedly fell victim to someone on the other side of the world.
Times have changed incredibly, and we need to change with the times.
This legislation proposes changes to the Criminal Code, the Competition Act, and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act. The bill would create a law to address the behaviour that can occur in cases of cyberbullying. This new offence would be called non-consensual distribution of intimate images. Investigative powers need to be updated to ensure that they are in line with the modern technology I just talked about, where in one minute, something as small as one's hand reaches across the world.
I would like to expand a bit on the amendments to the Criminal Code and highlight how they are designed to ensure appropriate privacy protection in the face of the new technology. It is a difficult balancing act, because we need to ensure that privacy is protected while providing the tools to tackle these horrendous issues.
There are a few areas I would like to talk about. I will start with preservation orders and demands and updates to the tracking warrant provisions, which are essential tools to ensure that effective investigations are conducted in Canada when the police are faced with crimes involving technology.
What is this new preservation order? The preservation order would create new powers, to be used in both Criminal Code and Competition Act contraventions. The goal of these two new provisions is to ensure that volatile computer data will not be deleted before the police have time to get a warrant or court order to collect it for investigations.
The need for these tools is obvious. Not only is computer data easily deleted but it can also easily be lost through carelessness or just in day-to-day business practice.
A preservation order or demand would legally require a person to keep the computer data that is vital to an investigation long enough for the police to seek the judicial warrants and orders necessary to obtain the information. This tool would ensure that the police could get the investigation under way without the loss of really important evidence.
People may have concerns about the impact of these amendments on a person's right to a reasonable expectation of privacy. They might have heard about Europe's data retention regime and worry that our legislation is going to import that to Canada. That is not what Bill C-13 is doing.
Data retention would allow the collection of a range of data for all telephone and Internet service subscribers for a defined period of time, regardless of whether or not the data was connected with the investigation.
Bill C-13 does not provide for data retention. It provides for data preservation, and that is a very important fact. It would require that specified computer data in connection with a specific investigation and specific people be preserved for a limited period of time.
It is important to understand that this data would not be turned over to the police unless they first obtained a judicial warrant or court order for that disclosure. Also, any of the data that was preserved and whose presentation was not otherwise required for regular business purposes would have to be destroyed as soon as it was no longer needed for the investigation. This would protect the privacy of Canadians. This would also ensure that the regime created in this bill did not inadvertently result in the kind of data retention I have just described.
As members can see, the data preservation scheme the government is proposing is actually quite constrained in its focus and has been designed as a stop-gap measure so that the judicial warrants and the court order police obtain subsequent to access to the evidence are not rendered useless. Again, it is a really important intermittent tool.
Another change Bill C-13 proposes is updating the Criminal Code's existing tracking warrant provision. Of course, this warrant was created in the early 1990s. Police could obtain and use this warrant to track people, cars, or objects. Again, as I described earlier, so much has changed in tracking technology since then and in the accuracy of this tracking technology. The continuity with which it can track things has also improved.
Because of the improvements, the existing tracking warrant is outdated, and its privacy safeguards no longer reflect the reality of modern tracking technology, which could allow for greater privacy invasions than before. This is an important thing we thought we had to tackle.
Bill C-13 proposes to heighten privacy protections for the most invasive uses of tracking technology. This legislation would do this by creating a dual threshold for tracking warrants.The police would be able to get the first kind of tracking warrant the way they have always been able to get one for the less invasive type of tracking: prove to the judge or the justice that they have reasonable grounds to suspect that the warrant will assist in the investigation of an offence. The police would use this warrant to track objects, vehicles, and transactions.
However, for the more invasive technique of tracking a person using a device usually worn or carried by the person, such as a cellphone, the police would have to get a second type of warrant, which would provide for greater privacy protection than the first.
Bill C-13 would provide that to get such a warrant, the police would have to prove to the judge that they had reasonable grounds to believe that the use of a tracking warrant would assist in the investigation of the offence.
Legally, this is a tougher standard to meet, and as a result, it would provide more privacy protection than the first type of warrant, which is about tracking objects. This is an important distinction, as it reflects a higher level of protection, commensurate with the more intrusive potential of tracking persons, which is reflected in the second type of tracking warrant. It was designed to very carefully meet that difficult balance in terms of giving the police tools in the modern day that ensure that there are appropriate safeguards in place.
To bring things to a conclusion, I talked about two specific measures. Canadians have understandably been outraged by the crimes committed through the use of the Internet, including massive fraud and horribly cruel incidents of cyberbullying. I believe that Bill C-13 is both a necessary and balanced response. It would enable law enforcement to have tools to respond to these criminal activities. I encourage all members in this House to support Bill C-13.
Mr. Dany Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, as is the case for the vast majority of my colleagues in the House, the subject of cyberbullying and bullying in general is something I am deeply concerned about. This issue is so important to me that I decided that my one and only bill to be debated and voted on in the House would be about bullying. That is why, almost two years ago, I introduced a national bullying prevention strategy. The Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois voted overwhelmingly against it.
Ten minutes is not a lot of time for me to say everything I want to say about this. Before I begin my speech, I would like to respond to my Conservative colleague who has just finished her speech and answers. The parliamentary secretary talked about how proactive her Conservative government is when it comes to dealing with bullying. That is a lie. It is not true. This is 2014 and we are debating Bill C-13.
In 2011, 15-year-old Jenna Bowers-Bryanton took her own life. She lived in Truro, Nova Scotia. When the media reported the news, Jenna's parents, family and friends spoke about what this young woman had gone through. They said that she had been bullied via social media. She was receiving vicious messages and comments from anonymous sources. In these messages, she was even told that she should kill herself.
According to her parents, Courtney Brown, another Nova Scotian, was bullied via Facebook in 2011. She too committed suicide when she could no longer deal with the situation. These are two cases of young Canadian women who, in 2011, were victims of Internet bullying, which is called cyberbullying. The Conservative government, which was in power at the time, did nothing.
Meanwhile, the opposition introduced two bills. We are proactive in the NDP. I spoke about how my initiative to implement a national bullying prevention strategy was defeated. The bill introduced by my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour focused strictly on closing loopholes in Canadian legislation to prevent the distribution of intimate images without consent. The Conservatives voted against this measure twice.
I therefore do not believe the Conservative member when she says that her government is proactive. That is not true. This debate has been very emotional for me. I was talking about this earlier with my parliamentary assistant, Steve Slepchik. We sent some messages back and forth about how sad we felt when preparing my speech, which is still somewhat off the cuff. We researched the number of young people who had committed suicide as a result of bullying since we were elected in 2011. Some took their own lives as a result of cyberbullying. Others were bullied at school. We in the House of Commons know the difference, and we know that bullying in schools falls more under provincial jurisdiction. However, we also know that telecommunications fall under federal jurisdiction, and that is why the federal government must play its role in that regard, a role that goes beyond the measure this government has proposed.
I would also like to remind members that the NDP is in favour of this bill since it is quite similar to a bill that we ourselves proposed. What is more, when it comes to cyberbullying, we agree with the part of this 75-page brick that closes the loophole with regard to the distribution of intimate images without consent. However, cyberbullying has a much larger scope than that.
I have another example, and it always makes me sad when I talk about it. Todd Loik, a youth from North Battleford, Saskatchewan, also took his own life at the age of 15. He was being taunted and teased online, but it was much more than that. He was threatened and bullied on Facebook, until the night he decided to take his own life because he could not take it anymore. Even his mother, who read with great sorrow the Facebook messages to her son, called them disgusting.
She even said that he received these insults on his cellphone and home computer.
The cyberbullying of young people in Canada and around the world is more than just the distribution of intimate photos without consent. Passing Bill C-13 and giving it royal assent will not give the Conservatives—who boast about enforcing law and order, but actually do very little about it—bragging rights about having done something to set limits on and curtail cyberbullying in Canada. The distribution of intimate photos without consent is just one aspect of cyberbullying.
Youth suicide is covered extensively by the media, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Parliamentarians in every Canadian province and territory have admitted that they were victims of bullying. I am one of them. We have to do something. We must adopt a national bullying prevention strategy that will give parents more tools.
In Canada, parents who know that their child is a victim of bullying or cyberbullying do not have the tools to deal with it. The government can use the means at its disposal to inform the Canadian public and to provide parents with documentation that will help them do their job and defend and equip their children.
The Conservatives' approach would simply have us criminalize cyberbullying instead of preventing it. Unfortunately, bullying leaves scars. When a young person is the victim of bullying over the course of months or years, the harm has been done, even if the bully is punished. However, the victim is sometimes no longer even alive when the bully is punished. Is that fair? I do not think so. The families and loved ones of bullying victims, even those who do not resort to suicide, are left with scars.
I would not want any young person in Canada to be the victim of bullying, but bullying most often involves young people. It could be a matter of carelessness or cruelty on the part of these darling angels who are not aware of how much their actions can hurt others. Some young people imitate their parents or loved ones. When they see their parents saying negative things about a colleague or being mean-spirited, the children absorb this information and emulate this kind of behaviour at school, on the bus or on the Internet.
I wish we could pass legislation requiring Canadians, teens and children to show love for one another, so that we can put an end to bullying and cyberbullying, but I know that is unrealistic.
However, it is not too late to take action, and the government must not rest on its laurels. After it passes Bill C-13, it must move forward and impose further controls on cyberbullying. We need to work on prevention.
For example, the committee should look at meaningful measures to ensure that a teen who is bullied via text message, Facebook, Twitter or email can access a government-run website to complain. The teen could take a screenshot and indicate where the bullying took place, so that the police can investigate it. By working with Internet service providers, we could track down the bully and send an email warning to the owner of the IP address, which is likely the parents. That way, the parents could do their job and talk to their child about what they have done.
Those are some concrete ways to combat cyberbullying that the NDP would like to work on.
I thank my colleagues for taking all of this into consideration.
Mr. Bev Shipley (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to speak in the House as a representative of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, particularly today as we speak in support of Bill C-13, the protecting Canadians from online crime act. As we have heard today from all speakers, it addresses the serious criminal behaviour associated with cyberbullying.
This is an issue that affects Canadians across the country, whether in small communities, like mine, or in large cities, in remote areas, or in urban areas. It is an issue of grave concern to all of us. For Barb and me, who are parents and grandparents, as aunts and uncles, as parliamentarians and as Canadians, we take this for what the act talks about.
We have all heard of the tragic results of cyberbullying. My colleagues who spoke mentioned a number of individuals who have been captured and caught in the effects of cyberbullying. There are stories of children so distraught that they take their own lives because they can no longer handle the barrage of taunts, threats, and humiliation that is absolutely heartbreaking to them and everyone around them.
We have the opportunity to take decisive action now and try to prevent, as much as we can, future tragedies. The legislation before us is one that would move us ahead with reforms to our laws to deter the effects and types of destructive behaviour. Certainly, having stronger penalties in place would act as a strong deterrent to those who would post intimate pictures of someone online without their consent. It is also critical, and we have heard a lot about that today, that every possible step be taken to prevent bullying in all its forms.
In my time today, I want to talk about our government, and specifically Public Safety Canada, which is prepared to establish a number of prevention, education, and awareness activities. As the lead federal department on the issue of cyberbullying, Public Safety Canada is tackling this form of intimidation. This includes supporting programs that work to change behaviours among young people to prevent bullying of all types, whether online or in person.
For example, our government is currently supporting the development of a number of school-based projects to prevent bullying as part of the $10 million that was committed in 2012 toward new crime prevention projects to address this and other priority issues such as preventing violence among at-risk youth and offending among urban aboriginal youth. Education and awareness are also critical to addressing this harmful and extreme behaviour. We are working on a number of initiatives to encourage youth. We need youth themselves to speak up and to let adults know what is happening.
Our government supports the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, which operates Cybertip.ca, an initiative that started in 2002, and NeedHelpNow.ca. These are websites that Canadians can use to report online sexual exploitation of children and to seek help for exploitation resulting from the sharing of sexual images.
In addition, the RCMP Centre for Youth Crime Prevention offers resources such as fact sheets, lesson plans, and interactive learning tools to youth, parents, police officers, and educators on issues such as bullying and cyberbullying. We also talk about cyberbullying during Cyber Security Awareness Month, which takes place each October.
The focus of Public Safety Canada’s Get Cyber Safe campaign is to educate Canadians of all ages on the simple steps they can take to protect themselves from people who want to do harm to them online, or for things like identity theft, fraud, and computer viruses.
Part of helping our people stay safe online includes making them aware of the dangers of cyberbullying and what they can do to stop it. As part of our efforts in this regard, Public Safety Canada launched a national public awareness safety campaign called “Stop Hating Online”, in January 2014. It does a number of things. It provides information to youth and their parents about the potential serious legal consequences around cyberbullying and the distribution of intimate images without consent.
It also informs Canadian adults that they have a role to play in the prevention and reporting of cyberbullying and raises awareness among young Canadians regarding the types of behaviours that constitute cyberbullying and the impacts of that on people. We want to help them understand that they can be more than a bystander, and give them information on how and when they can stand up to cyberbullying.
We want to make sure that we go beyond that. In order to reach as many people as possible, we want to make sure that we cover both adults and youth. Our government wants to work closely with the private sector and other government partners to deliver the campaign using a wide variety of media, awareness activities, but with a particular focus on using social media to spread the word and encourage Canadians.
I hope that members of the House were able to see some of the ads played on national TV networks between January and March. The idea was aimed at parents and youth, the latter being a little more edgy and dynamic to capture the attention of our tech-savvy youth. Both ads illustrated how easy it is for kids to share intimate images of each other through mobile phones and social media, often without much thought. Both ads end with a clear and serious message: that sharing intimate messages and images without consent is not only wrong, it is also illegal—something we are working toward with the legislation before us.
Because the younger generation is not necessarily watching the evening news, the same ads were played online and at movie theatres. The ads drove people to a comprehensive website called “Stop Hating Online”, which provides concrete tools and tips for youth, parents, educators, and all those concerned about cyberbullying. The campaign uses social media like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to reach out to youth.
This is where we are seeing a significant engagement and positive feedback from youth and parents who are embracing this campaign and telling us clearly that they are not going to accept this destructive behaviour for themselves, their families, or their friends.
In fact, Facebook Canada reported that interest and engagement is much higher than average for the Stop Hating Online initiative. It has also had over one million views of the youth-oriented ad on YouTube since its launch. Facebook accounts for more than 60,000 times its usual hits. We are saying that when we reach out across all media and all types of contacts, it is starting to hit home. As we watch television news and listen to reports of those who have been caught in this, they need to understand the severity of it.
For obvious reasons, as a proud parent and grandparent, I would ask members of the House to support Bill C-13.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today and talk to what I believe is a very important issue. The issue of cyberbullying is very real, it is tangible, and it happens every day. It affects the lives of thousands of Canadians throughout our great land. There is a responsibility for government to do its best to ensure that we have the tools that are necessary to make a difference. That is really what we in the Liberal Party want. We would like to see a comprehensive approach to dealing with the issue of cyberbullying. That is what is really important here.
The legislation is one part of it. The additional resources, ideas, budgets, and throne speeches are another part of it, where we see a government that wants to focus its attention on dealing with an issue that many Canadians are quite concerned about. They want the government to demonstrate leadership on such an important issue.
I listened to the member, and I posed a question specifically; I appreciated the frankness in the answer that he provided. However, the point is that we have before us a piece of legislation that deals with a number of changes. Some of those changes I do not think would do any service by being incorporated into the important issue of cyberbullying. We remember the old Bill C-30, which had some fairly significant implications regarding lawful access. The government gave assurances on that bill and it died on the order paper.
Why incorporate some of the things they have into this very important issue? It made reference to the cable industry and cable theft. I suspect that if we canvass the House we would find that there is a great deal of interest in the issue of cyberbullying today. It is nothing new. It has been there for many years. We can talk about the cyber.ca website, and I would recommend that people check it. People can draw fantastic information from it. We need to get more people educated about the process of bullying that takes place.
In 2005, legislation under former Prime Minister Paul Martin was proposed. We have had other members bring it forward. In particular I look to my colleague from Vancouver, the wonderful Liberal Party health critic, who has brought forward the issue of cyberbullying. This issue has been before us for a number of years, and it keeps growing in its seriousness and the importance for the House to take more action in dealing with it.
Today, we have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and a litany of other programs and applications through the Internet that are used as mechanisms to inflict hurt upon someone else. One cannot underestimate the tragedies that have been caused by the type of cyberbullying or harassment that is taking place every day.
When we look at this legislation in principle, I believe all members, but assuredly members of the Liberal caucus, are quite supportive of taking action that would assist us in dealing with that very important issue of cyberbullying.
However, Liberals want to go further than that. We want to challenge the government to look at refocusing some of its priorities. The member made reference to advertising commercials. There is a great deal of benefit in using advertising as a wonderful tool to educate our population, because not everyone listens to the 6 o'clock or 10 o'clock news. The member is right that purchasing advertising spots in sports and children's programming would be of great value.
Think of the hundreds of millions of dollars the government spends on advertising its budget, its economic program, or whatever we want to call it. It spends hundreds of millions of dollars on something of no real great value. It is a bunch of spin coming from the government on what it is doing. Why not use some of the hundreds of millions of dollars on good, solid programs that are going to make a difference, such as developing and paying for advertising in our multimedia world today to educate individuals about cyberspace? That is what we should be doing. We challenge the government of the day to be a bit more creative on that front.
We need to work with stakeholders. How can we develop a strategy to educate and encourage people to get a better understanding of such an important issue if we are not prepared to work with the different stakeholders in society? One example would be schools. In Manitoba, there is in excess of 200,000 students attending public school. What is being done to encourage some sort of programming that educates our young people? I do not want to have to rely on Facebook and independent thinking that takes place in a locked room where all sorts of mischievous behaviour could be occurring in terms of educating our young people. It has to be far broader than that. Schools, school divisions, and departments of education all need to play a role.
What about the private sector? We talk about harassment that takes place in the cyberworld. Vindictive attitudes and how quickly individuals attack potential victims by posting pictures or images or making statements on the Internet that have strong, profound negative impacts on people's lives are incredible. Only one level of government, the national government and the Prime Minister, has to realize just how important it is that it is set as a priority issue. Every day that goes by that the Conservative government chooses not to be more aggressively proactive on this issue, we are destroying lives because we allow it to continue to the degree at which it is moving forward today, at a very rapid pace.
Liberals welcome the idea of action, support action to deal with anti-bullying, and want more of a comprehensive, all-inclusive strategy that is going to change more than the criminal law. It is time that the Government of Canada starts working with stakeholders. We could make a much larger difference if the government became interested in doing that.