Bill C-44 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act
This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.
David Collenette Liberal
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
Strengthening Aviation Security Act
March 1st, 2011 / 1:20 p.m.
Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the important matter of Bill C-42, concerning the personal information of Canadians on flights over the U.S.
Although we will support the legislation, I will speak to the history of the bill, how we got to that point and why we can now support the bill.
First, it should be noted the way in which the government went about introducing the bill. As is the practice of the government, which we have become all too familiar with, it either tables legislation that it has no plans on following through with or it introduces legislation that it is not serious in following through with in such a way that it limits serious debate.
The government waited until the last sitting day before the summer recess to introduce this bill, a move to avoid parliamentary scrutiny over these measures by leaving little time for debate.
As it stands right now, the Aeronautics Act already allows for the disclosure of personal information by airlines to foreign states if the flight lands within the foreign state. The act also provides a legislative authority to create the no-fly list intended to identify potential terrorists in airline passenger lists and block them from boarding domestic or international flights.
The no-fly list, however, has proven seriously problematic. Further, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has expressed concerns with the measures enabled under the Aeronautics Act.
The Privacy Commissioner has testified before committee that the Canadian government should ask the United States to quickly destroy the information it will be collecting on airline passengers flying over the U.S. because there is nothing to prevent that information from being shared on a wide scale basis both in the U.S. and abroad.
The Privacy Commissioner has also noted that there is nothing in the new secure flight policy that precludes the Department of Homeland Security from sharing passenger names, birthdates and genders, passport information and travel itineraries with immigration and law enforcement authorities at home and abroad.
This assessment of the policy contradicts the assertions of the public safety minister, who told the transport committee that the information collected on Canadian passengers was intended to be used solely to protect aviation security.
No wonder there are some serious concerns when we have conflicting views from the minister and the Privacy Commissioner.
By further changing the act to force Canadian airlines to disclose personal information of Canadian passengers who are simply flying over the United States, Bill C-42 would further endanger the privacy rights of Canadians.
Maintaining public security, however, is important and a balance must be achieved. Liberal Party members expressed this concern when the bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
Liberal members have amended the bill in three specific ways: first, the House of Commons will be required to conduct a review of these measures two years from the date they come into force and every five years thereafter; second, this data transfer will be limited to the U.S. in legislation, as the original version of the bill allowed the Canadian government to add other countries by order-in-council; and, third, airlines and travel agents will be required by Canadian law to inform passengers of this impending data transfer before their ticket is purchased.
This may only be a one paragraph bill that would make a minor change to the wording of one section of the Aeronautics Act, however, these changes would be significant in practice. The bill could effectively be used as legal justification for airlines and travel agents to supply foreign governments with personal information about passengers when a plane they are on flies through a country's airspace. Currently, the act allows for this transmission of information only when a Canadian plane lands in that country.
Let me take a moment to go over the history of these provisions in the Aeronautics Act.
At question is subsection 4.83 (1). This allows for the cabinet to make regulations regarding the transmission of certain information to foreign governments. Subsection 4.83 essentially creates legislative exemption to the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.
The supporting regulations remain the critical component of this piece of the framework.
Schedule 1 of the regulations lists the category of information that may be automatically provided to an authorized foreign government. This includes basic information such as name, gender and passport number.
Schedule 2 of the regulations provides what detailed information may be provided to a foreign government. These details include the passenger's address, phone number, class of ticket, for example, business or economy, method of payment for the ticket and whether the passenger in question actually paid for the ticket.
The final schedule in these regulations, Schedule 3, lists the governments and agencies that are authorized to request or receive any of the information listed in either of the first two schedules. There is only one country and agency on the list: the United States and its commissioner of customs.
The regulations in question were introduced in 2001 during the 37th Parliament. Bill C-44 amended the Aeronautics Act to allow the transmission of this information to foreign governments. This was in response to new U.S. requirements for any plane landing inside that country.
Subsequent U.S. legislation requires other countries to provide the U.S. government with details of any passenger in a plane flying over the U.S., not landing, but actually flying over the U.S.
The Liberal Party has very strong concerns about the erosion of Canadian sovereignty expressed in the bill. We also have very real concerns about the privacy of Canadians and about the ability of the government to conduct foreign affairs in a way that benefits Canadians.
The balance between national security and personal freedom is a crucial balance for any government. I, as well as my Liberal colleagues in the official opposition, am very concerned that Bill C-42 goes too far. Hence, the need for our amendments.
For starters, the bill was not designed to protect the national security of Canadians. It was designed to transmit information to other countries for flights outside Canadian airspace. Once this information is in the hands of a foreign government, we cannot control what they do with it.
In May of last year, assistant privacy commissioner, Chantal Bernier, spoke to the transport committee. She said that the U.S. government, the only government currently authorized to receive this data, could keep the personal information of Canadians anywhere from seven days to 99 years. She also stated that the U.S. could use that information for any purpose, even those not related to air-land security, such as law enforcement.
When the United States passed the patriot act in the aftermath of September 11, it caused concern to many nations around the world. The patriot act allows the U.S. government unfettered access to and control of information about citizens from all over the world. It is no small matter to put private information of citizens into the hands of the U.S. government, where it will be subject to the wider net of the patriot act.
We must be concerned about any law that allows information about Canadians not accused of any crime to be put in the U.S. intelligence machine. We could be creating a situation where the government helps to provide a foreign government information that is used to prosecute Canadians without any formal judicial process.
It should be clarified that these are not information-gathering agreements. Rather the legislation would create a one-way flow of information out of Canada and into the hands of foreign governments.
In passing the legislation, we are creating a legal framework that will require diligent monitoring. It is important that we exercise our right to ensure that Canadians are protected. Hopefully, we can do that with the amendments that we put forward, which are now a part of this. As well, we must ensure that we stay on top of this and monitor very closely what is done over the course of the time.
We must understand that in creating this legislation we are opening the door for other countries to ask the same things. We are saying publicly that we are willing to provide personal and private information about our citizens to other countries. This is a troubling development that we must be willing to abandon if it proves to be more sinister than good.
Just because a Liberal amendment has been adopted to limit this information sharing with the U.S., it does not prevent other countries from now wanting to negotiate similar information transfers. Therefore, we need to be very vigilant in terms of what the government will do once this bill has been passed and can move forward with it.
Strengthening Aviation Security Act
October 19th, 2010 / 3:20 p.m.
Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC
Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question surprises me. He is a seasoned parliamentarian, a veteran of this House.
We might agree with the principle of a bill at second reading, but that does not necessarily mean we will support it at third reading. That is precisely why our parliamentary procedure dictates that after passing second reading, bills are referred to committee to hear from witnesses, specialists and experts.
If, because of his experience, my hon. colleague could claim the title of expert, he could appear before the committee, enlighten us and give us the benefit of his wisdom. That is why I do not see any contradiction in the Bloc Québécois' position. In 2001 we were in agreement, to some extent, with Bill C-44, in cases where landing and take-off did in fact occur.
We think this now goes just a little further. Does it go too far? Is it too much? What information will be disclosed? Was the same thing asked of other countries or was it only the United States? I cannot answer these questions today, which is why we are sending this bill to committee.
Strengthening Aviation Security Act
October 19th, 2010 / 3:05 p.m.
Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC
Mr. Speaker, I will try to make myself understood in this cacophony. We know that since 2001, in the wake of September 11, a series of measures has been implemented, in the United States in particular, to improve public safety.
Sometimes these measures infringed and still infringe in a real, tangible or perceived way on the right to privacy. In the aftermath came the implementation of what is commonly referred to in the airline industry as the no-fly list. Being on this list means being prohibited from boarding flights. In order for this list to be fully operational, it is important to know passengers' identity ahead of time. That is why, in 2001, at the request of the United States, the Canadian government introduced Bill C-44, which received the Bloc Québécois' support.
That bill was passed quickly. It authorized airline companies to disclose to local authorities all passenger information prescribed by regulation. The next words I am about to say are important, if not crucial, because they make a distinction between Bill C-44 and the bill currently before us. Bill C-44 allowed all information to be given to authorities in the country of arrival or transit, where the plane touches the ground, whereas Bill C-42 before us covers flying through a given country's airspace. That distinction is of capital importance.
The information requested was name, date of birth, sex, and sometimes, passport number. If, at first glance, access to that information seems innocuous, keep in mind the many problems with the no-fly list.
To show just how ridiculous the United States' no-fly list is, I want to mention two cases where the system went very wrong. One of the people whose name appeared on the no-fly list was Ted Kennedy, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, who died just a few months ago. In 2004, he was apprehended and interrogated five times at the airport, even though his name should not have been on the list. Despite his fame and influence, it took more than three weeks for his team of Congressional aides to get his name off the list. That was one of the mistakes that received the most media coverage, but it was not the only one. There is another example of how ridiculous this list is. Last May in the United States, the Thomas family was apprehended at the airport. Why? Because the name of one of the Thomas girls, who was six years old, was on the no-fly list.
People certainly realized there had been a mistake. It was still very difficult, though, to get on the plane. That is basically what I had to say.
I just want to repeat what I said before the members’ statements and question period, namely that the Bloc Québécois will vote for this bill in principle. We will agree to send it to a committee so that it can be studied seriously and in depth, with witnesses, specialists and experts. I want to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Ahuntsic, who is our outstanding public safety critic. She sent me an email suggesting the names of witnesses, groups and individuals who could enlighten the committee with their expertise so that Bill C-42 can be subjected to some serious analysis.
I want to be clear. The Bloc Québécois will vote at second reading in favour of the principle of this bill so that it can be sent to a committee. Regarding how we will proceed after that, though, we reserve the right to change our position on this issue if necessary.
Strengthening Aviation Security Act
October 19th, 2010 / 1:50 p.m.
Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC
Mr. Speaker, I gather that my speech will be cut short by question period unless I request the unanimous consent of the House to delay members' statements. Rest assured though, I will not be doing that.
This bill deals with disclosing the identity of passengers flying over the United States who are not stopping there. Given that we have just started debate at second reading, I would like to say, on behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, that we will be supporting this bill simply because we want to examine it more thoroughly in committee. I do not want to get into a long speech about parliamentary law, but typically the vote at second reading is about the principle of the bill.
We will vote in favour of the bill because we want it to be studied in committee. There we will be able to hear from witnesses who will share their diverse experiences and talk about the problems that this bill raises. To prepare for my speech earlier, I was talking to our colleague, the hon. member for Ahuntsic, who is the excellent Bloc Québécois public safety critic. She gave me the names of people who represent various groups that might be interested in providing testimony on this bill.
As I have already mentioned, the purpose of this bill is to allow airline companies to disclose information about their passengers to the countries whose airspace they will be using. That is slightly different wording from the former Bill C-44, which we adopted in 2001, when it was a question of stopovers and passengers in transit. It is appropriate for the country receiving the airline passengers to know the past and present of these individuals.
This bill talks about planes travelling through an airspace, which raises a few questions among members of the Bloc Québécois. We understand that this bill responds to a specific request by the United States. We recognize that the United States is a major trading partner, but that does not mean we have to blindly accept every request the U.S. makes. We saw what type of democracy the Americans had under George W. Bush.
The Bloc Québécois obviously recognizes that every country has the right to regulate its airspace, but the fact remains that we think this measure goes too far. As I was saying earlier, the identified passengers will not even land—or at least not during this trip—in the country that would be receiving confidential and substantial information. I hope I am not telling the House anything new, but planes travel through the air and not always through free or international zones. Sometimes, at 33,000 or 35,000 feet, planes travel through airspace subject to the sovereignty of certain countries, but the passengers of those planes will never touch the soil of those countries. They will only fly over those countries.
The bill gives the countries being flown over the right to receive personal information. We want to study this bill in committee to determine if that is really necessary. The Bloc Québécois wants to ensure that we are doing everything we can to avoid violating travellers' privacy. For instance, one of the questions we would like to ask the department's witnesses regarding the government's approach in this bill is whether the Canadian government tried to reason with the United States and ask it to justify this measure.
As vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, I will have the opportunity to ask such questions on this measure, which, as we all know, comes from the United States. We believe that the information available must be kept to the absolute minimum required. We are concerned about the lack of any guidelines, including for instance, ensuring that only the information requested by the United States will be transmitted. But that is not the case; a blanket disclosure can be made.
Will the transmitted information be determined by legislation rather than regulations? Should the transmission, if necessary, be conditional on the signing of a protocol between Canada and the country requesting the information? Such a protocol would govern how the information is used, stored and deleted. Furthermore, it could provide a mechanism to give the victims of errors an opportunity to correct their information, as well as a process to compensate them if necessary.
Lastly, we believe that passengers must be clearly informed, before they purchase their plane tickets, about the fact that certain countries will be receiving some of their personal information. Given these many problems, the Bloc Québécois reserves the right to oppose the bill at future stages in the parliamentary process. The responses we obtain in committee will determine how we decide to proceed during the clause-by-clause study of the bill and how we vote at third reading.
Mr. Speaker, since you are indicating that the time for members' statements is about to begin, I will continue after question period.
Strengthening Aviation Security Act
October 19th, 2010 / 1:30 p.m.
John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take this opportunity to speak about Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, on behalf of the official opposition. This is a one-paragraph bill that makes a minor change to the wording of one section of the Aeronautics Act. However, these changes are significant in practice.
The bill would provide legal cover for airlines and travel agents to provide foreign governments with personal information about passengers when a plane they are on flies through a country's airspace. Currently, the act allows for this transmission of information only when a Canadian plane lands in that country.
Let me take a moment to go over the history of these provisions in the Aeronautics Act. The subsection in question is 4.83(1). It allows for the Governor in Council to make regulations regarding the transmission of this information. Subsection 4.83(1) only creates the legislative exemption to the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.
The supporting regulations remain the critical component of this piece of the framework. Schedule one of the regulations lists the category of information that may be automatically provided to an authorized foreign government. This includes basic information such as name, gender, passport number, et cetera. However, authorized foreign governments may request more specific information.
Schedule two of the regulations provides what detailed information may be provided to a foreign government. These details include the passenger's address; the passenger's phone number; the class of ticket, for example, business or economy; method of payment for the ticket; and whether the passenger in question paid for the ticket.
The final schedule in these regulations, schedule three, lists the government and agencies that are authorized to request or receive any of the information listed in either of the first two schedules. There is only one country and agency on the list, the United States and its commissioner of customs.
Where did these regulations come from? Introduced on November 28, 2001 during the 37th Parliament, Bill C-44 amended the Aeronautics Act to allow the transmission of this information to foreign governments. This was in response to new U.S. requirements for any plane landing inside that country. Subsequent U.S. legislation has required that any country provide their government with details of any passenger in a plane flying over the U.S.
The Liberal Party has very strong concerns about the erosion of Canadian sovereignty expressed in this bill. We have very real concerns about the privacy of Canadians and about the ability of the government to conduct foreign affairs to the benefit of Canadians.
Before the heckles start to arise from the government benches that Liberals are “soft on terror”, let me remind hon. members that it was a Liberal government that created the Anti-terrorism Act in the first place, and that it was a Liberal government that created the exemption in section 4.83. However, when the previous Liberal government tackled these issues, it always did so with an eye to protecting the rights of Canadians.
The most powerful and controversial provisions of the anti-terror bill came with a sunset clause. We recognized the heated and emotional environment that existed immediately after the tragic events of September 11, and Liberal lawmakers wanted to ensure that Parliament would revisit these parts of the law five years after that bill was made law. The balance between national security and personal freedom is a crucial balance for any government, and I, as well as my colleagues in the official opposition, am very concerned that Bill C-42 goes too far.
For starters, this bill is not designed to protect the national security of Canadians. It is designed to transmit information to other countries for flights outside Canadian airspace. Once this information is in the hands of a foreign government, we cannot control what they do with it.
In May of this year, Assistant Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier was speaking to the transport committee and said that the U.S. government, the only government currently authorized to receive this data, could keep the personal information of Canadians anywhere from 7 days to 99 years. She also stated that the U.S. can use that information for any purpose, even those not related to airline security such as law enforcement.
The U.S. Patriot Act, passed in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, is a piece of legislation that caused concern all around the world. It allows the U.S. government unprecedented access to, and control of, information about citizens from a number of countries. When a foreign government puts information, even information about that country's own citizens, in the hands of the U.S. government, it is consumed by the mechanisms in the Patriot Act.
We must be concerned about any law that allows information about Canadians not accused of any crime to be put in the U.S. intelligence machine. We could be creating a situation where the government helps to provide to a foreign government information that is used to prosecute Canadians, all without any formal judicial process. It should be clarified that these are not information-sharing agreements. Rather, this legislation would create a one-way flow of information out of Canada and into the hands of foreign governments.
By passing this legislation, we are creating a troubling legal framework. Members of this place must ask themselves if they want to create the legal framework for other countries to ask for this information. In effect, by passing this legislation and allowing the government to add other countries as it sees fit, we are saying publicly that we as a country are willing to provide this information to other nations. For example, I wonder if the government would be willing to add the United Arab Emirates to such a list and allow it to receive all this information about Canadians flying over its airspace.
Currently, only the U.S.A. is authorized to receive this information. However, the legislative framework in the Aeronautics Act is not exclusive to the United States. As I mentioned before, the Canadian government may add other countries to the list through order in council.
What happens when other countries start to ask for this privilege? It is no secret that the Conservative government is woefully inept when it comes to foreign relations. Let us take a look at its track record.
In the past few weeks the government managed to get our military kicked out of Dubai and embarrassed us at the United Nations by failing, for the first time in 40 years, to obtain a seat on the Security Council. We have gone from a country that is respected around the world to one that commits blunder after blunder, all culminating in our embarrassing loss of the seat last week.
The government's inability to handle sensitive diplomatic negotiations has led to a falling out with the United Arab Emirates. That relationship is critical to our efforts in Afghanistan, but the government and the Prime Minister's obstinate nature led to such an impasse that Canada is now scrambling to find another base for our troops.
For the past four and a half years, the government has eroded Canada's standing in the world, failed policy after failed policy.
Should we pass this legislation, how are we to know that the government will not botch another important diplomatic negotiation involving information transfer rights? What if another country asks for an information transfer agreement? Could we trust the Conservative government to protect our interests without destroying another important international relationship? I do not think so, and at this point I think most Canadians have these same doubts. The Conservative government has an abysmal diplomatic track record. As parliamentarians, do we want to give it one more angle, one more complication to misunderstand in the already complicated world of international relations?
Canada has invested billions of dollars over the past decade in security. Why after all these upgrades and all the spending do foreign governments still not trust Canada to ensure that only safe passengers fly? Our closest allies should be able to trust that, when the Canadian government allows someone to board a plane, that person has been cleared and is not a threat to their country or to ours. In allowing this information to be transferred, is the government not admitting either a failure of security or a failure of diplomacy?
Government is a difficult task. My Liberal colleagues and I know this first-hand. I spoke earlier of striking the balance between personal freedoms and national security. This balance is not found in the overwrought rhetoric that comes from the benches opposite me. It comes from careful consideration, from listening to experts and listening to Canadians.
Also important is Canada's sovereignty. If this legislation were enacted as is, Canadians on domestic flights may have their information transferred to another country. Canadians travelling to foreign destinations such as Mexico or the Caribbean would also have their information transferred to a third country.
The Liberal Party, and I believe all opposition parties, have some very serious concerns with the bill and with the erosion of Canadian sovereignty that is associated with it. We have concerns about the effects it will have on the rights of Canadians to privacy. We have concerns about whether this does anything to increase the safety of Canadians. Finally, we have difficulty with the ability of the government to navigate the subtle and complex arena of international relations.
The official opposition may support the bill at second reading in order to send it to committee, but this is no guarantee that we will necessarily support the bill further. If it does go to committee, the bill will need to be studied thoroughly. MPs and Canadians need to hear from authorities such as the Privacy Commissioner, the U.S. and other experts in security and civil rights before we can come to a final conclusion.
Violence against Women
June 18th, 2002 / 2:40 p.m.
Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB
Mr. Speaker, let me try to put the question more directly then.
We have had from the government a string of anti-terrorism bills, Bill C-36, Bill C-42, Bill C-44 and Bill C-55. The government spends millions of dollars fighting terrorism yet women in this country live with violence every minute of their lives. The government refuses to make the issues pertaining to women in abusive relationships a priority.
My question is, where is the money to protect women and for public security for women in violent situations? Where is a national strategy on domestic violence against women?
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 30th, 2002 / 4:10 p.m.
Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Quebecers and Canadians who are listening to us, I am pleased to rise for the second time today in the House in the debate on Bill C-55 and on the amendment moved by our colleague from the Progressive Conservative Party.
A few Liberal members have spoken today. We have been dealing with Bill C-55 for about three days now and they have not really taken part in these discussions. The same goes for the Canadian Alliance members. It shows that human rights and freedoms are not of major interest to Liberal members from Quebec and Canada, as well as to Canadian Alliance members.
Why? Because the Liberal government is a centralizing one and the Canadian Alliance is no better. It would probably want to centralize powers much more in the hands of the central government. For those who are listening to us, I will try to drive home the importance of the statements that have been in the newspapers for over a month now.
I will mention only the titles. On Thursday, May 2, 2002, a La Presse headline read “The privacy commissioner condemns Bill C-55. Some measures are taken directly from some totalitarian states, he said”.
On May 19, a headline read “The fight against terrorism: half-truth and misleading statement. The privacy commissioner accuses the solicitor general of using the September 11 attacks to give police undue extra powers”. We must never forget that the solicitor general is responsible, among other things, for the RCMP and CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. The privacy commissioner therefore made a serious accusation.
Even yesterday, another headline read “Amnesty International takes stock. September 11 has hurt human rights”.
This is what we are facing in Bill C-55. In the short time that I have, I will try to explain the elements that have been added, that is, that were not in Bill C-42 and that we find in Bill C-55, concerning the provision of personal information.
For example, clause 4.81(1) says:
4.81(1) The Minister, or any officer of the Department of Transport authorized by the Minister for the purposes of this section, may, for the purposes of transportation security, require any air carrier or operator of an aviation reservation system to provide the Minister or officer, as the case may be, within the time and in the manner specified by the Minister or officer, with information set out in the schedule—
This means that from now on airlines will be required to release this information to the Department of Transport for security reasons. I will explain later to whom the Minister of Transport or his officials are required to release this information.
First, I would like to refer to the information listed in the schedule which you will have to give to your airliner:
The number of the person's passport—
The city or country in which the travel included in the person's passenger name record—
The itinerary cities—
The name of the operator of the aircraft on which the person is on board or expected to be on board—
The phone numbers of the person—
The person's address—
that means your address and your phone number;
- The manner in which the person's ticket was paid for
which means how you paid for the ticket
We are talking here about your credit card. They will have your credit card number.
- If applicable, a notation that there are gaps in the itinerary included in the person's passenger name record that necessitate travel by an undetermined method—
Therefore you will have to say where you are going, to what city and how you will travel from one point to another in that city. Also:
- Routing information in respect of the travel included in the person's passenger name record—
This means your whole itinerary.
The Department of Transport requires airlines to release this information. What will the Minister of Transport and his officials do with it? This is how they will be able to use it and, again, I quote from section 4.81 of the Bill:
(3) Information provided under subsection (1) may be disclosed to persons outside the Department of Transport only for the purposes of transportation security, and it may be disclosed only to:
(a) the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration;
(b) the Minister of National Revenue;
(c) the chief executive officer of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority—
A new agency, which does not exist yet, will be responsible for security across Canada.
(d) a person designated under subsection 4.82(2) or (3).
What is important in subsections (2) and (3) is very simple: the reference to the commissioner of the RCMP in (2) and to the dIrector of CSIS in (3).
Now the Minister of Transport can require the air carrier to provide him with information when he deems there is a security problem, and can transfer them to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Minister of National Revenue, the Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, the Commissioner of the RCMP and the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
And what can these people do? We are told that, within citizenship and immigration, customs and excise and air transport security, this information cannot be disclosed except for security purposes.
But how long will they be kept? The three departments or agencies I have listed, citizenship and immigration, customs and revenue and transportation safety, can retain them for seven days. These individuals and organizations, as well as the Department of Transport, can therefore retain the information for seven days. You are off on a trip, on vacation, but your itinerary, your credit card number, your home phone number, your address, will be wandering about the various departments for seven days, in the name of security.
What is going to be done with this information you provide? They want to use it for security purposes and so they can carry out investigations. What if they turn up a security problem? They are going to transfer the information to the RCMP and CSIS, both of whom have no obligation to destroy them after seven days. The other organizations have that obligation, but they do not. The RCMP and CSIS can retain them as long as they please.
People who are listening have certainly understood that new powers are being granted to these organizations. That is why the privacy commissioner has protested that this is pure nonsense. On top of that, you would have to give this information before you leave and it can be kept for seven days. If you are unfortunate enough, you will board the same plane as one of those Hells Angels we were talking about this morning, who have been invited to the festivities in England for the Queen and will be allowed on their bikes in the Queen's parade. If that biker has a criminal record, he could be inspected, searched and investigated. Of course, all passagers aboard the same plane could undergo the same procedure.
That is the purpose of the bill. We are now in the same situation as in the US. They asked for this information a few months ago, so we passed Bill C-44. What are the Americans doing now? When the Americans see people, men or women, who are in the company of people who have been flagged, especially when they all want to go to international meetings, the investigation drags on so much that it so happened once that more than 40 passengers could not board their plane. The intelligence people came and decided to investigate and hold back all those who were going to campaign for an association. This procedure was used to restrict their freedom. They had to miss their flight. Why? Because there was an investigation on the information they had given. One of them had a criminal record, so they decided to investigate all the other people.
So if you are a man or a woman boarding a flight with a potential criminal, you might have the misfortune of being submitted to an investigation, something that I do not wish to you. In the country you are heading to, they might not have the same respect for human rights and you might get arrested by that country's military police, who will tell you that Canadian authorities called to know where you are now. That is where we are at now, and that is not funny. That is what the privacy commissioner was describing.
Mr. Speaker, allow me to move an amendment to the amendment under consideration. I move:
That the motion be amended by adding the following:
“and a denial of rights and freedoms that was denounced by Amnesty International in its most recent report.”
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 30th, 2002 / noon
Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise again to speak to Bill C-55. It is important that the people from Quebec and Canada who are listening understand in what terrible context this bill is being submitted to the House.
If I may say so, if we could have chosen the timing for the introduction of Bill C-55, it would certainly not have been at a time when the Liberal government and its ministers are up to their ears in scandal. Why? Because never in Canadian history has a bill ever given so much power to individuals in a ministerial position. The defence minister is not alone. The bill also gives powers to the ministers of health, transport, immigration, the environment, and a score of ministers who, under Bill C-55, will be given exceptional powers that will not be subject to the approval of this House. That is the most terrible aspect of Bill C-55, and that was the most terrible aspect of Bill C-42.
Why has the Bloc Quebecois done such good work? Because we had just one question to ask, one thing to say to the government and all its ministers, and that was “What were you unable to do on September 11 that bills like C-42 and C-55 would have allowed you to do? When you can give us an answer, we will talk”.
That is why Bill C-42 is no longer on the order. Bill C-44 was introduced because an important measure had to be implemented following September 11, so that the government could provide personal information to the Americans, based on their own formula, in order for airplanes to be allowed to fly over the United States. That was the only measure the government needed. We approved that bill in the House so that our airline companies could resume their operations.
Now we have Bill C-55. Bill C-42 had 98 pages from which they removed the part dealing with personal information to be supplied to the U.S. as I just explained. Believe it or not, this new Bill C-55 has 102 pages. It is a bigger bill, one which still gives exceptional powers to ordinary individuals and ordinary ministers who, on their own initiative, can designate military zones. For his part, the health minister could make an interim order and make vaccination mandatory. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms would not apply to all this.
Orders in council and interim orders, which would have the force of regulations, and which the ministers I listed a moment ago would have the power to make, would be beyond the control of this House and beyond the control of the regulatory process, which requires that regulations be reviewed by the Privy Council to ensure they are consistent with the charter of rights and freedoms.
For 15 days and up to 45 days, the decisions of a single individual, of a single minister, could affect the whole population of a whole territory, and the House would not be allowed to look at them. Worse still, within controlled access military zones, people would not be able to call for the protection of the courts or their lawyers. The would lose their rights, especially the right to sue the government.
Of course, this is what we are opposing and what other opposition parties are opposing. The government is trampling on rights, on the authority of a single person.
To stress that the current debate is not about party politics, but is a societal debate, especially on Bill C-55, I will read quotes from various sources including newspaper articles. I will give the dates. On May 2, 2002, an article in the newspaper La Presse read as follows “The privacy commissioner condemns Bill C-55. Some measures are directly inspired by totalitarian states, he warned”.
That was in the daily La Presse , but this statement was also made in most newspapers in Canada.
It is following these discussions that the Prime Minister of Canada, who even refused to answer our questions on Bill C-55 in the House, went so far as to say, outside the House, “There are days when I am a democrat and then there are days when I am a dictator”. This came following discussions on Bill C-55, when journalists were asking him “Can you explain to us the content of Bill C-55?”
The problem for Liberal members in this House is that they have not read Bill C-55 and, more importantly, they do not understand its nature. Moreover, the leader of the government, the Prime Minister himself said, of course, “Wait, we will discuss it in committee”. This is what the Liberal government spokesperson said.
On May 19, 2002, the headline in the daily Le Soleil read “Anti-Terrorism, Half Truth and Misleading Statement: Privacy Commissioner accuses Solicitor General of using September 11 Attacks to give Police Undue Extra Powers”.
We are talking here about the solicitor general, who is at the centre of the scandal condemned by several opposition parties in the House and who, of course, was defending Bill C-55, which deals with powers that will be given to him and to other ministers. Again, the privacy commissioner was calling the solicitor general to order.
On May 29, 2002, Le Devoir wrote “September 11 has hurt human rights. Amnesty International has taken stock. Canada has followed the world tendency by adopting anti-terrorism legislation, and by attacking fundamental rights, privacy rights”.
Today, Michel C. Auger, who is a highly respected journalist, writes in the Journal de Montréal that “All over the world, the law of terror, national security and anti-terrorism are becoming the best excuses to violate fundamental rights. The fight against terrorism has become a pretext for all sorts of abuse”. And he talks about Canada and says “Today again, parliamentarians are discussing”.
This is in today's edition of the Journal de Montréal . It says “Today again, parliamentarians are discussing another bill, namely Bill C-55, which gives the government and security forces all sorts of new powers that would have been unacceptable to the public just a few months ago”.
This is what we are talking about. In this regard, it is difficult to have to speak in the House and, particularly to get through to Quebec Liberal members, who hardly spoke on this. Of course, the majority of other Liberal members and, particularly the ministers affected by Bill C-55, toe the party line.
We heard earlier a Liberal member say “I trust the minister of defence”. It is not even the same person; a new one has been in office since the shuffle a few days ago. Last weekend, he surely saw that the former defence minister, who had been in office for several years, disappeared among the scandals. Of course, we have now a new defence minister, a banker.
I have a great deal of respect for bankers, but what have bankers been doing in the last 10 years in Canada? They have been digging into our pockets to show profits to their shareholders every quarter. This is what they have been doing. They have been raising fees, monthly charges, for all the small users of banking services, and they have paid less interest to seniors on their investments. This is what bankers are doing today: they take away from the poor to make their shareholders rich.
We now have a banker as minister of defence. We are going trust this new minister of defence and give him the power to designate controlled access military zones that extend beyond military property.
The Bloc Quebecois recognizes that the government and the Canadian Forces must defend their facilities; this it true. However, we have a problem with Bill C-55 allowing the government to go beyond its territory to protect, as they say or as they try to say, personnel and property that could be located outside defence establishments.
Controlled access military zones will be created, and the new minister of defence, a former banker, will make this decision alone without consulting anyone, especially not the provincial governments and those responsible for safety in most Canadian provinces.
That is what the Bloc Quebecois opposes and what all Canadians, particularly Quebecers, are concerned about.
With all the scandals involving various ministers, why is the government so intent on conferring upon individual ministers the power to make decisions that, in an emergency, will no longer be submitted to this House or to provincial authorities?
Business of the House
May 2nd, 2002 / 4:35 p.m.
Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central I am pleased to rise and participate in the debate on Bill C-55, an act to amend certain acts of Canada and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety.
It has been almost eight months since September 11. This is the Liberal's third attempt at legislation. It was first introduced as Bill C-42. Then it was split. Its offshoot, Bill C-44 was passed. The government reintroduced Bill C-42, then pulled it again last week. Now it has introduced Bill C-55.
This shows a reaction to the September 11 event rather than how the government needs to address the issue. This also shows a lack of vision and strategy by the government. It does not enhance the confidence in the government's ability to lead in the war on terrorism.
The legislation is a feeble reflection of its American counterpart. The U.S. introduced, debated, amended and enacted much more comprehensive security legislation in eight weeks, setting out tasks and defining government responsibilities. President Bush even signed it into law in November 2001, despite an anthrax scare.
It has taken the government eight months to introduce Canada's legislation in three different drafts to give us a sense of comprehension of security and third rate management. Actually all it has done is raised taxes and grabbed more power since September 11.
I am pleased that the Liberals withdrew their last flawed terror bill, Bill C-42. However they seemed to have missed the concerns Canadians had about it regarding an apparent power grab by ministers.
Bill C-55 has many flawed elements but two of them are the power grab by ministers and half-baked measures designed to mirror U.S. legislation. The stated purposes of the bill include: making air rage an offence; strengthening security at restricted areas in airports; requiring transportation companies to provide information on passengers; criminalizing terrorist hoaxes; providing for more control over explosives and sensitive exports; providing for the naming of controlled access military zones by the defence minister; protecting the jobs of reservists called up for service; and implementing the biological and toxin weapons convention.
This is an omnibus bill amending 19 different acts of parliament and implementing one international treaty, as well as impacting nine different ministries, which makes fair scrutiny by one committee almost impossible, amounting to even less accountability in government.
It gives the ministers of the environment, health, transport and fisheries and oceans the authority to issue an interim order effectively giving them the power to act without consulting cabinet or parliament and thus making the government even more arrogant.
This general increase in authority is not accompanied by any new specifics, or an assumption of responsibility by the ministries concerned. It is without any judicial or parliamentary oversight to safeguard the rights of Canadians. Allowing ministers to impose interim orders in contentious areas limits accountability for a bad decision to a single cabinet minister, rather than the Prime Minister or the whole government. This is not a step forward toward more accountable government.
Given the sweeping powers that already exist in the Emergencies Act to declare a public order emergency, an international emergency or even a war emergency, the new interim orders are probably not necessary in most cases.
Although the timeframe for cabinet review of ministerial imposed orders has been reduced from 90 days to 45 days it is a cosmetic change that is still too long a time period. It is 31 days more than the 14 days currently required under the act.
The legislation is inadequate, vague and seems to only be window dressing. It will probably be loaded with regulations. The government is not only weak and arrogant but also infamous for thwarting democracy in the House. The regulations would be imposed without any oversight or debate in parliament. This is not called governing but rather ruling through the back door.
As co-chair of the scrutiny of regulations committee I know how badly we need regulatory reform in the country. Some of the provinces are doing quite a bit, at least more than the federal government. The government needs to submit regulations along with the legislation when it puts it forward for debate in the House so that we know what it is following. As they say, the devil is in the details and the devil has to follow.
The government would now require air transportation companies to provide information about passengers en route to Canada but would not require them to ensure that passengers have documents when they board and when they disembark. There are no provisions to fine companies and require them to return the passengers if they do not have their documents.
The problem of invalid or missing travel documents remains. All persons who do not have documents should be detained automatically until they can prove their identity or their identity can be proven by running criminal checks overseas.
The auditor general said that 40% of potential refugees applying for refugee status in Canada land in the country without any kind of documents in their hands. That puts security at risk. Although airlines are required to check the passports of passengers for citizenship information, it is for immigration purposes only, not for security or ensuring that they land in this country with the documents with which they were able to board the plane.
There is no provision in the bill to send people back. If they were to come through a safe third country nothing could be done about them. All such persons should automatically be sent back. The transportation company should foot the bill for failing to screen the passengers. That is the law in the United States, why not in Canada?
According to the bill collected information would not be shared with law enforcement agencies and could not therefore be used in profiling. Further, the bill would not provide a means by which such information might be processed. It lacks co-ordination and a utilization strategy for the information.
There is little controversy about the provisions for greater sharing of information among financial institutions and regulators in order to comply with the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act. There is nothing about that in the bill. Again it is a lack of co-ordination and co-operation. The government does not understand how to create a synergy of resources and information.
There should be a reasonable balance between security and the privacy rights of Canadians. The provisions proposed in section 4.82 would give the RCMP and CSIS unrestricted access to the personal information of all Canadian air travellers on flights within Canada as well as on international routes without any judicial authorization, explanation or justification as to its necessity.
Only air travellers within Canada would be forced by law to identify themselves to police for scrutiny, not travellers by train, bus or car. It is discriminatory. Similar practices exist in only totalitarian societies where police routinely board trains or establish roadblocks to check identification of people in search of anything in the interest of the state. Such countries have issued compulsory national identity cards or numbers. This provision would be an infringement on the privacy of citizens.
There are other issues, for example, how about law abiding citizens? They would also be required to provide information. Similarly, the amendments to the criminal code deal with hoaxes which are not real terrorist threats. There are so many things that are limiting to democracy.
The bill is contrary to Canadian Alliance policy of calling for more accountability in the government. The Canadian Alliance opposes the bill unless the government amends certain things we have put forward and limits the blanket interim order powers given to the ministers. I look forward to the government making those possible amendments.
Public Safety Act, 2002
May 2nd, 2002 / 12:45 p.m.
Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Lethbridge.
I rise today to discuss Bill C-55, the public safety act. We all live in a different world in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Legislation is needed to address the security concerns we all face, however, Bill C-55 has very serious flaws that need to be addressed if it is to become law.
This is the third attempt to put the bill before the House. The bill began as Bill C-42, which was later split into two parts, with Bill C-44 being passed earlier in the session. We are pleased that the bill was split at the time so as to allow our support for the air safety regulations in Bill C-44. Now we have Bill C-55, supposedly the new and improved version; however, the government has not addressed any of the serious issues that caused the collapse of Bill C-42. The bill remains flawed.
The government has a poor track record of controversial legislation. The species at risk act was recently pulled from the order paper after a third aborted attempt. Long awaited amendments to the Divorce Act are delayed yet again while the government tries to find a way not to offend anyone.
The government simply cannot cope with difficult legislation. Why? A government without any policy direction is revealed when called on to make policy. Its lack of ideas is exposed. When it does come up with ideas they are often not well thought out, they anger all sides of the political debate and they do not address the needs of Canadians. Worse, when it does bow to public pressure and withdraw a bad bill, which is rare, it does not make any real changes. Bill C-55 does not adequately address any of our concerns with respect to Bill C-42. Why introduce the bill at all if the government will not fix it?
My main concern with Bill C-42 was the unreasonable amount of power that was given to a handful of ministers. The Canadian Alliance believes that the powers under the Emergencies Act to declare various stages of public emergency are adequate. The Aeronautics Act also allows for ministerial discretion, but forces its ratification by parliament or cabinet within 14 days. Bill C-42 allowed cabinet ministers to unilaterally declare an emergency in an area, as a result giving them very broad enforcement powers. Those decisions did not have to be reviewed by cabinet for three months. Parliament as a whole might never have been consulted at all.
Bill C-55 purports to address this by reducing the review period from 90 days to 40 days. Imagine, he now can get his cabinet together in 45 days. It must be pretty tough to pull them all together. This is ridiculous. Both periods are equally extreme. Invoking extreme measures that limit democratic rights in Canada should be relied upon only as a last resort. When they are invoked they should be debated in parliament, not in a closed door cabinet meeting. This should happen in a matter of days, not weeks or months. Furthermore, this authority to be given to ministers is not accompanied by any specifics as to how it would be implemented. It is not indicated that ministers would be responsible for enforcing the order or, more important, that they would be accountable for it.
Frankly, Bill C-55, like Bill C-42, looks suspiciously like nothing more than another power grab. We owe it to Canadians to ensure that their civil liberties will not be suspended without very good reason and within very strict parameters. Furthermore, the sheer size and scope of Bill C-55 make discussion difficult. No single committee can be tasked with so many changes. The Canadian Alliance requests that the bill be split into sections to allow more informed, useful debate both in this place and in committee.
No one is denying that there is a need for security measures to protect Canadians. For this reason I support bringing about fair laws. Bill C-55 does address a few of these areas, and in particular the measures that would protect the jobs of the reservists when they are called into active service. That is excellent and I fully support that. This law is long overdue. We have been calling for this for some time.
We also support measures to update the Explosives Act and measures that would make terrorist hoaxes an offence. Our security personnel have a tough enough time dealing with real terrorists without having to waste valuable resources on pranksters.
Again, these are positive steps in the bill, but unfortunately the balance is not acceptable. The overwhelming power grab, not having to come back to cabinet for weeks, discussing it behind closed doors, and not even having to come before parliament, all of these are not acceptable. I would like to support this type of legislation to actually enhance and protect public safety, but the bill should be about people's protection. Instead it is more about giving more unaccountability to government. It is famous for that. The single fatal flaw in this institution is the lack of accountability of the executive of the government. This is a bill that will give them more powers with no accountability. The government is famous for allowing ministers to do as they will with no regard for the House of Commons. Bill C-55 is another classic example. Ultimately, eight months and three drafts later, the bill remains a failure. I ask the government to make significant amendments to address the faults I have outlined.
I would like to add one other point about the whole security situation with regard to September 11. The government is now collecting the $24 air tax from travellers in the country. It is having a huge impact in my riding. The Victoria airport is in my riding, which generally has short flights, and $24 is a significant burden.
Worse than that, what I learned last week was appalling. The government is scrambling to find a way to create an appearance or a perception that the travelling public is actually getting something for that $24. What is the government going to do? For any airports that have flights to the U.S. or national flights, it is going to put armed RCMP or police officers in the airport beside security so that there is a perception, and I emphasize perception, that travellers are getting something for their $24, because right now the travelling public is saying that there is not a lot of difference. They go through security and their bags go through an X-ray machine, so not a lot has changed.
The government talked about explosive detection equipment but when we actually speak to the people in the airports they tell us it will take two to three years to even order that equipment because there is such a huge backlog. Yet the government is collecting another tax and putting the money into general revenues. It is wrong. In my community there are only 24 police officers. It would take five police officers from that detachment just to man the airport. That would pull police officers off the street. Again the frustrating part is that the government is not interested in the public or in accountability. It is interested in creating a perception. It says it has to give people something for that $24 so if it throws some armed police into airports people will think they are a lot safer. It is wrong.
Let me emphasize that the biggest fatal flaw in Bill C-55 is the power grab it is giving to the ministers, with zero accountability. They do not even have to come before the House. They can wait weeks before they have to go to cabinet. That is not acceptable. Cabinet could be convened in a matter of hours, if not days. Parliament could be recalled if those kinds of extraordinary powers were necessary. Unfortunately again the government has demonstrated that when it comes to accountability it is still getting an F.