An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

Sponsor

Rob Nicholson  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment imposes reporting duties on persons who provide an Internet service to the public if they are advised of an Internet address where child pornography may be available to the public or if they have reasonable grounds to believe that their Internet service is being or has been used to commit a child pornography offence. This enactment makes it an offence to fail to comply with the reporting duties.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

  • Nov. 16, 2010 Failed That Bill C-22 be amended by restoring Clause 1 as follows: “1. This Act may be cited as the Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act.”

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

December 3rd, 2010 / 10 a.m.
See context

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address Bill C-22 at third reading.

As always, it is important that we recognize the support for the bill, throughout many years actually. All parties are supportive of the bill, so it clearly will go through. With the opportunity we have for the short amount of debate we will have on it, probably finishing today, we need to set, in context, how it has come to be this far into the process, why it has taken so long and the usefulness of the procedures that we mandate will have.

There is a big component here, I would hope, both in this debate, as Canadians listen to it and have up to this point, and on an ongoing basis, and that is the public educational aspect to the bill. If it is to be useful, we need greater co-operation from individuals who use the Internet on a regular basis.

To set the context, the bill requires companies that provide servers for the Internet to report what they consider to be child pornography to a specific agency, yet to be established. It will be identified and all service providers will be made aware of the agency. That is the first element.

Second, companies will have to report to the agency and if they are then, either by the agency or by a police forces, advised that they believe it is child pornography and that an investigation will take place, they will have to retain the material for a 21 day period. That will give police and prosecutors sufficient time to get a warrant to access the data and to trace back this material to its source. Our prosecutors need the 21 days to get a judicial warrant to get access to that information.

The bill is essentially about that.

To set it in its context of why this is so important, the first thing I would point out is an NDP member had a private member's bill dealing with these aspects, and a couple more, way back in the late 1990s. The subsequent Liberal governments did nothing to move on this, and I think I am accurate in that. If they did, they introduced a bill really late, in 2004, 2005. The Conservative government picked it up in 2006, but we are now in almost 2011. In fact, this clearly will not likely become law until 2011 by the time it gets through the Senate and royal assent. That is a full five years.

What has happened in that period of time is more children have been abused. Our police officers, prosecutors and judges have all been hamstrung, to a significant degree, in dealing with child pornography on the Internet because they have not had these tools. In that period of time, as much as the justice minister in particular and the Prime Minister stand regularly in the House and in public and accuse the opposition parties of slowing down bills, this one included, the reality is the government went to an election. Even though it said it would go to a fixed date election, it broke that promise and stalled the bill. We had two prorogations and both times this bill or its predecessors were stalled as well. In effect we have lost a full five years when we could have had this law. In fact, we should have had it as much as 10 years ago, and that is a real shame.

In terms of the ability of our police forces in particular, the bill would allow our police enforcement agencies to get at this material.

It is important to understand something else that happened in Canada. Paul Gillespie, a police officer in Toronto, was trying to deal with child pornography and child sexual abuse generally. He became really frustrated by the lack of technology. On his own initiative, and he is really a Canadian hero in this regard, he sent a letter to Bill Gates of Microsoft and said that police officers needed help, that they could not trace the material, which has exploded on the Internet.

We have always had child pornography. We could go back to ancient Greece, ancient Egypt and find child pornography. However, with the advent of the Internet and easy access by billions of people around the Globe, child pornographers put this material on to the Internet in huge volume.

Paul Gillespie found that the police could not trace this material back. Most of this material does not come out of Canada. A chunk of it comes out of the United States, and we can disagree on how much, and a large chunk of it comes out of eastern Europe and parts of Asia. Mr. Gillespie was trying to trace this back to the source, but this material, at times, will go through as many as 50 different servers.

He said to Bill Gates that the police did not have the technology to trace this back, that there were all kinds of walls built into the Internet that the police could not break through and he asked for help. To their great credit, Mr. Gates and his corporation provided resources to the tune of about $10 million in both actual dollars and in his staff. They built a software program with which we are now able to trace back, quite successfully, this material to its very source.

We have the problem, and I will be quite frank on this. When we have traced it back to various countries, there is no ability or, in some cases, no willingness on their part to shut these servers down and to prosecute the people who put it up originally. That is an ongoing problem. We need international co-operation. However, Canada has now become known as the country that developed, with the help of Mr. Gates and his company, the technology to trace it back.

Back to the bill and why it is so important. The service providers now have a legislated mandate that if they identify child pornography, they pass that information on to the new agency that will be created. One of the agencies we believe will be in competition for this role is the Cybertip.ca in Manitoba. Cybertip.ca was modelled after a program that started in the U.K. A centre was established in Winnipeg that regularly searches the Internet to try to find these sources and then passes that on to police agencies to try to track it down. I believe the federal funding for Cybertip.ca came in 2004, 2005 under the then Liberal government. I remember at the time criticizing the government for not giving it enough money.

We heard from the members of Cybertip.ca. They testified before the committee on this bill. They acknowledged that there was a good deal of additional work they would like to do to identify and trace this material and help the police in that regard.

Essentially people call Cybertip.ca to say that they have found a site with child pornography. Cybertip.ca then looks at it and identifies it to determine if it is prosecutable. It is passed on to the Canadian police forces that then pass it on to international ones.

Cybertip.ca has been very successful, but again, it is not properly funded. There is a lot of work it would like to do. When the director came to committee, she made it quite clear that it could easily double its work force to cope with that huge volume of child pornography on the Internet.

This is one of the potential agencies that may be identified under the regulations of the legislation as the agency to report to. I expect there may be other agencies that would bid in once the criteria and mandate for the agency is set up under the regulations.

This is a very positive development in terms of fighting child pornography. There is not an individual in the House, and very few Canadians, who are not totally revolted by this material. In a previous bill that dealt with the issue of child luring, some material was shown to the committee in camera. I have also had exposure to this through my practice while doing some criminal work. It is absolutely revolting to see, especially when it is very young children, babies who cannot even walk yet, involved with adults sexually abusing them.

It is absolutely crucial that we move on this. I am very critical of the current government and the previous government that it has taken us this long to get to this stage.

Our police officers can significantly move forward because of the ability to now gather this material through the service providers. They see, as much as everybody else does, that they will have an effect. There will be a greater number of people reporting on the existence of this material and where it exists. A secondary part of this bill will be the ability to get a quick search warrant to access the address. Through the website, which would already have been identified, they will be able to trace it back because of the software program developed through Microsoft. This will make it much more effective in fighting this scourge.

We cannot downplay the huge volume. It is speculated that not only child pornography but pornography overall takes up as much as 50% of all the material that is on the Internet internationally, and child pornography forms a significant part of that.

When the bill is passed, the government and the country will be able to move very dramatically. We will continue to take a leadership role on this. That leadership role is recognized internationally. At the international level, we need to continue to press other governments that have not been willing, or that may not have the capacity to go after these service providers to get to the sites from where the child pornography comes. We have to be as forceful as we can.

The estimate I have seen, and this is reasonably accurate, is less than 1% or 2% of this material is produced in Canada because of some previous legislation we passed and because of the technology Microsoft developed for us. Since that technology came online, it has been available to people like Mr. Gillespie. I refer to him as Mr. Gillespie because he has left the police force and has set up a non-profit agency to continue to fight child pornography.

From the time that technology became available, we have identified a few sites in Canada where child pornography is produced and we have shut them down.

In terms of advocating at the international level, we need to pressure governments, particularly in eastern Europe and Asia, to be more proactive at investigating these sites in their countries, shutting them down and prosecuting the producers.

A significant element has developed, again mostly out of eastern Europe and Asia, of organized crime producing this material and making millions if not billions of dollars off it. In all cases we are seeing children, sometimes at a very young age being abused because of the pornographers.

I want to mention a couple of concerns that I have about the legislation, and I would urge the government to monitor this.

One of the provisions in the legislation is that, if the service providers do not comply with those two responsibilities, one, to report when they identify it and, two, to save the material for that 21-day period, they can be prosecuted.

I must say that the penalties contained in the bill seem to be quite mild when compared with other penalties that the government has imposed in the child pornography area. There seems to be some deference on the part of the government because these are corporate criminals. I have some difficulty with that and we will have to monitor it.

The other problem with it is that I do not understand the rationale behind this. The government put a maximum, a two-year limit, on the time when providers can be charged. It is certainly not beyond the pale that we would identify a number of service providers after two years who knew this type of material was on their sites and did not report it, or they did report it but did not keep the material.

In the secondary case, we will know and we will be able to charge them within that two-year time limit. But for those service providers who identify material and do not report it, it is quite conceivable, almost a certainty I would think, that we will find that some of them have done it for more than two years and we will not be able to prosecute them. I heard no argument from the government as to why it picked the arbitrary period of two years. Other sections in the Criminal Code do not have a two-year time limit in terms of the right to prosecute.

I raised another concern when I spoke to this bill at second reading, and that was that small service providers would not be able to comply. I just want to assure the House and Canadians generally that they are a small percentage of the overall market. The large service providers take up as much as 90% to 95% of the market.

We asked the association representing small service providers to attend committee and tell us if it had any concerns about the bill. The association said there was no need for it to appear because it was satisfied that small service providers could comply with the law. That has been taken care of, as far as we can tell.

This is a very good bill, with the exception of our one concern over the length of time to charge and prosecute. We will have to monitor that.

It is clear, from the evidence we heard on the bill and on other legislation we worked on with regard to child pornography and child sexual abuse more generally, that we have a responsibility because of the leadership role we have taken up to this point. Slow as it has been on some occasions, we are still further ahead than a lot of other countries. We have to continue at the international level to press governments to build a capacity to fight this scourge and, if they do identify it, have the political will to prosecute vigorously to shut the sites down and prosecute the producers of the material.

Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act
Government Orders

December 3rd, 2010 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Dechert Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question and the statement he made earlier today on Bill C-22 that all hon. members agree and have an interest in making our laws more restrictive to ensure that no child is ever sexually abused in Canada.

With respect to his specific question, I can assure him that the department did look at the way the definitions of child pornography mesh with the provisions of material to a child for the purposes of grooming the child for sexual abuse. It is the view of the government and the department that both will withstand any charter challenge.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

November 24th, 2010 / 4:20 p.m.
See context

Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles
Québec

Conservative

Daniel Petit Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I will continue my speech from yesterday. When I was interrupted, I was speaking about Cybertip.ca.

This company also compiles statistics on child pornography in Canada. Every month, Cybertip.ca receives approximately 800,000 hits on its website and triages over 700 reports. Approximately 45% of these reports are then forwarded to law enforcement.

As of June 2009, Cybertip.ca had triaged over 33,000 reports since becoming Canada’s national tip line in 2002. Over this period, more than 90% of the reports received by Cybertip.ca were related to child pornography. At least 30 arrests have resulted from these reports, approximately 3,000 websites have been shut down and, most importantly, children have been removed from abusive environments.

When they appeared before committee, Cybertip.ca’s representatives mentioned that, in the first year since becoming the designated agency for receiving reports of child pornography under Manitoba’s mandatory reporting legislation, Cybertip.ca saw a 126% increase in reporting, and 17 of those reports led to the identification of children or perpetrators.

Before I conclude, I would like to talk about the penalties proposed in the bill. Pursuant to Bill C-22, which is before us today, individuals, or sole proprietors, would be liable to a fine of not more than $1,000 for a first offence; a fine of not more than $5,000 for a second offence; and a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or both, for each subsequent offence.

Corporations and other entities would also be liable to a fine of not more than $10,000 for the first offence, a fine of not more than $50,000 for the second offence and a fine of not more than $100,000 for each subsequent offence. This two-level penalty system takes into account the diversity of the Internet service sector in Canada, where there are just as many sole proprietorships as there are multinational corporations.

Some might feel that these penalties are light, but we have to remember that this bill complements all of the existing measures to protect our children against sexual exploitation, including the harsh penalties provided for in the Criminal Code for child pornography offences.

This bill sends a message to those who provide Internet services to the public that they have a social and moral obligation, and now also a legal one, to report the existence of this heinous material when they become aware of it.

We believe that the penalties provided for in this bill would allow us to balance the objective of the bill with its effectiveness. In order to achieve the objective of this bill, to better protect children, the government wants to ensure that all Internet service providers in Canada abide by the law, not just the major Internet service providers who already voluntarily declare such cases and assist the police.

What those watching us now must understand is that there are individuals who provide Internet services and there are, of course, large corporations that provide the same services. So we created two types of offences and two types of progressive fines. We wanted to ensure that we identified all of the cases in which an individual or a corporation might host child pornography sites or might fail to report a child pornography site.

According to representatives of Cybertip.ca, mandatory reporting of child pornography helps prevent personal and professional dilemmas related to reporting this kind of material. It ensures compliance with the law and ensures that quick, appropriate action is taken. Taking a closer look at the current role of Cybertip.ca as a designated organization under the Manitoba legislation on mandatory reporting is helpful in understanding how to explain the provisions of Bill C-22. This is what I was saying earlier.

In closing, I would like to make a final point. I recently had the opportunity to go to Palermo, where the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe was meeting. I was representing Canada, along with other members of our delegation. We supported the same bill that we have here before us. We summarized it in a few lines and asked the entire European community to approve it. Some 54 countries were represented by their elected officials.

It was a victory for Canada: the resolution on that bill was the only one that passed unanimously. We are making progress in the fight against child pornography. Of course we had to explain our bill and urge the members of the other delegations, elected officials like me, to vote in favour of the bill. Many of the areas that produce pornographic sites were in certain Asian or Middle Eastern countries. We needed to send a clear message that we would no longer tolerate these sites, which come to Canada and the United States through major systems. We no longer want children, whether their children or our children, to be exploited on Internet sites that disseminate child pornography, nor do we want three- to five-year-old children doing such degrading things.

That was our argument and, at the risk of repeating myself, we won: our resolution was the only one that was unanimously adopted by that Parliamentary Assembly, which includes the European Community. We do not always win, but we won in that case. I want the public to know that Canada can be proud. We are at the forefront of the fight against child pornography.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

November 24th, 2010 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on Bill C-22, which is really a child pornography reporting bill. The emphasis is on reporting.

I am a little disturbed that, from speeches inside and outside of this House, in press clippings and in hyperbole at committee, people might have been left with the impression that this is a tool that will eradicate child pornography and make great strides towards stopping child pornography. In fact, it does very little.

I know the Conservatives like to have short titles for bills, such as “saving the community from everything bad” and stuff like that. This bill should really have been called the “too little too late act” in attempting to try to curb child pornography. I will explain why.

In 2006, I remember well, the Liberals were defeated and the Conservatives were elected. That is almost five years ago now. There will be a fifth anniversary, January 23. The Conservatives should look at that fifth anniversary and suggest to themselves in the mirror, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, have we delivered the laws fairest to all?”

No, they have not delivered laws. Here we have a law that there is no substantial opposition to. There is no opposition to this bill, and we are sitting here five years later.

In the spring of 2010, because of prorogation and elections and not making these housekeeping-type bills priorities, the parliamentary secretary at that time said:

The government is committed to doing everything it can to put a stop to this growing problem. That is why we are reintroducing in the House this legislative measure to create a uniform mandatory reporting regime across Canada that would apply to all Internet service providers.

If the government is doing everything it can, it should have done it sooner. It should have followed provincial examples. It should have followed international examples. The government would not have had any opposition.

The reason the Conservative government did not do everything it could is that it was preoccupied with a political agenda. It was preoccupied with prorogation, and it let the ball drop on this matter.

This is a growing problem. The government had to reintroduce it. It is not because the government is concerned about this, but it had to reintroduce the bill because it had Parliament crash, to use computer talk. The Conservatives crashed the CPU of Parliament, which is the sitting of Parliament, by prorogation.

Why is this problem specifically for Canada's management of the issue of posting Internet sites?

It is because, as table 1 from the Library of Parliament brief suggests, we are in the top five child pornography website host countries in the whole world. Would the Conservative Party, as a custodian of government, want to be in the top five?

We would not, but we are. We are number three. The percentage of sites hosted by Canada, which in the realm of world populations is not the largest country, is 9% of child pornography websites.

It is a problem. It needed to be addressed on January 24, 2006. It was not. Following that, it needed to go through the collapses of prorogation and be put on the front burner. It was not.

What did the provinces do? What did the people of Canada do through their other elected representatives?

They filled the vacuum. In September 2008, now over two years ago, federal and provincial ministers of justice and attorneys general, responsible for justice in Canada, agreed that the federal legislation to establish mandatory reporting of online child pornography by ISPs was necessary.

This did not even come from the federal government. The federal government should have been aware that being number three in the world is not a good list to be on with respect to hosting child pornography websites. It is not a good thing. The federal government should have been more proactive. Instead, it let the provinces suggest that they needed the federal government to enact legislation.

Here we are in the fall of 2010 finally looking at this legislation, finally speaking to it, agreeing to it and getting it through. In the meantime, this legislation has been leapfrogged by others provincially and internationally. They were more successful, penetrating, effective, coercive and co-operative with respect to the public engagement of reporting child pornography sites than this bill.

We have not even passed the bill yet and it is antiquated. How do we feel about that as lawmakers?

We will talk about the bill but the message for the government is that there will be many occasions when it will find no opposition in this House to a bill that seeks to have more reporting of Internet child pornography sites.

Therefore, with some dispatch and a little more efficiency and concern for the actual laws of the country, will the government please, on other fronts, get to legislation that people care about it.

In June, I said:

I would like to express, though, how troubled I am that it has taken the government so long to do something about this important topic.

We are now in November. It has been almost four and a half years and the government has done nothing. The victims of these crimes cannot wait and the government's tactics have deprived many children the free and happy lives they deserve.

Many of us have children and many of us provide the best we can for them and think that we are providing for them a free and happy life.

Those statements and the rest of what I said in June apply now. Let us get on with it and pass this bill.

Earlier in the debate, the parliamentary secretary said that the government was committed to doing everything it could to put a stop to Internet child pornography. In a response to a question, he also said that Canada was a leader in this field by virtue of Bill C-22, which has not been passed in five years, faced with the fact that we are number three on a list of all countries hosting Internet sites and based on the fact that he appears to be either not aware of or at least not disclosing. with respect to very good questions from my friend from the Bloc and my colleague from Scarborough—Agincourt, what is going on in the rest of the world.

What is going on in the rest of the world has already gone on because, in 2002, the sexual exploitation and other abuse of children statute 18 USC chapter 110 was passed. Unlike this bill, which would only puts an obligation on the ISP, the bill in the United States makes it also a duty to have anyone providing telecommunications services to have the same duty.

Let us think of that in a country like Canada where every body that provides telecommunications services, not just ISPs, has a duty to report the existence of child pornography , if it comes to his or her knowledge, and of doing something about it. That is a broader law than the Canadian government has introduced under Bill C-22.

The question that was put to the elected officials at our committee was why we had not broadened the federal legislation to put a more serious duty on other persons other than ISPs. Why should there not be a duty on the general public to report a child pornography Internet site?

There is an obligation under the Criminal Code to report crimes when witnessed. Why is there not an obligation on persons who see these sites? Why do we not do this in Canada? At least the United States, some eight years before, was heading in that direction. Australia, in 1995, amended its code and has had a law similar to the United States law for that a period of time.

We are playing catch-up. Even this bill would not get us halfway to the leaders in the field.

We want to support the bill but we want to blast the government, as we did at committee, for not using broader powers that exist under the Constitution to put duties on average citizens, duties at least on all telecommunications service providers to report. The only way we will be able to crack down on child pornography Internet sites is to know about them and be informed about them.

Great groups like cybertip.ca, and in fact the RCMP which has divisions devoted to this type of crime, are under-lawed and understaffed, but that is another issue. They do not have the legal basis to crack down on the sites that they know about and they are not being aided in the way they would be if we had legislation similar to the American and Australian legislation in this instance.

I want to move from the international scene to talk about what happened in Canada. As I mentioned, in the fall of 2008, attorneys general came to Ottawa, at which time the government would have been two years on the rack, and suggested that we should have federal legislation covering this very egregious problem. It is now two years and two months later and it is finally here.

What did the provinces do in the meantime? What would we do if we were a premier or a minister of justice in a province? We would probably look at what the we could do as province to do something in the vacuum created by the inaction and the incessant political pandering of the federal government.

I will give a couple of examples of what the provinces did. Nova Scotia enacted the child pornography reporting act which came into effect in 2010 and was enacted in 2008. The province took some time in 2008 to act on the recommendations of the provincial and territorial governments when they came to Ottawa and acted fairly swiftly. That act now states that a reporting entity shall be responsible to further up the investigation of complaints it receives from people in general.

That is a very important section because, after reading this, the people in Nova Scotia will feel that their province has done more about the problem than their federal government. It says that there is a duty to report by every person, not just an ISP, not just a telco operator, not just someone involved in scanning the Internet to see what is involved for a police force, but “Every person who reasonably believes that a representation or material is child pornography shall promptly report to a reporting entity any information”. It is irrespective of confidentiality or privilege because it is a crime.

The crime is committed because a child has been photographed or depicted and those depictions are victimizations in a crime in itself, let alone the transmission of that image across the bandwidth in this country. This is a brave and, so far, completely legal and constitutional act on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia.

We hear so much on this side about how fighting crime is the feather in the Conservatives' cap. It is what they are good at. They fight crime. If they were really fighting crime in this instance, they would have done a better job. They would have convinced Department of Justice officials that a federal act could at least go as far as the United States and Australia in touching telcos.

They might even say that when a crime is visited upon a child or person depicted on a pornography site, that is a crime that touches the national interest. It is not merely the interest of the child being protected and it is not merely the domain of the provincial government under the Child and Family Services Act and that power in a section of the Constitution. It is clearly a criminal justice issue.

Where were these titans of crime-fighting when they went to the Department of Justice and said that they had some issues with getting a stable government and were preoccupied with keeping power and getting the ads out on the nightly news?

What we is a powerful legislation like the one in Australia, in the U.S. or, even better, the one I mentioned in Nova Scotia. Manitoba's legislation is very similar. Those are two jurisdictions that said, “Elected persons in Manitoba and Nova Scotia, we can't wait for the federal government”.

I am not sure, because there have been so many changes, but I think I am being completely non-partisan. There is not a Liberal government in those two provinces and there has not been for a while, so we are talking about NDP and Conservative governments. They took the bull by the horns and said that they would protect the children in their provinces because they could not wait for the federal government to invoke a federal criminal justice power in the legislation before them.

What we have now in Bill C-22 is something we can all agree on. However, we need to get the message out there that this is too little and it is too late because other jurisdictions have leap-frogged us. The bill is a step in the right direction. I do not want to leave my remarks by being 100% critical of the government. Making the reporting of child sexual abuse images mandatory for ISPs is a good step. It is a good tool to put in the hands of law enforcement. As I said before, groups that came forward during the parliamentary hearings process would be very able to administer the law.

We might have one criticism. The Conservatives had five years but they could not even put the governing aspects of the bill, which is who reports to whom and what gets done, which are the guts of the bill, into the bill. The bill says that subject to regulations we will sort this all out later. My goodness, they have had five years to get this together, would we not think that they could have picked an agency like Cybertip or a division of the RCMP? Instead of regulation, which to us is uncertain and will not be effected or enacted immediately, could they not have put in this fairly short bill the details of which agency gets reported to and what is expected of that reporting agency? It does not seem to be that difficult because Nova Scotia and Manitoba already have it in their acts.

I always say that when there is an issue like this, sometimes we need to look east to the Maritimes, and Nova Scotia has a regime that is working. Nova Scotia went through the constitutional argument of whether it had the power and it does. The federal Conservative government never went through the rigours of that but it presented a bill to us. I suppose we should all fall on our swords on this side of the House and say that it was our fault because we did not propose amendments. We did not propose amendments because it would take the bill beyond the scope.

We are not the government yet but if we were the government we would have had legislation like this done much quicker. We need to keep in mind that the growth of Internet porn sites is exponential. By 2008, every first law officer in this country, the attorney generals and ministers of justice, agreed that something needed to be done and, in some cases, they did. When they expected the federal government to do it, the federal government did not deliver. It is just delivering now in November.

The bill requires Internet service providers to report child pornography to a designated reporting entity. We heard evidence that the RCMP or Cybertip.ca might be those entities. It is true that federal legislation can only provide a mandatory duty where it finds a nexus. As suggested in my speech, I do not think the nexus is just with child and family services provincial power. It is with a criminal activity or a criminal law power. Although not everyone in the House is a lawyer, I think we all recognize that taping, making a video, photographing or the image taking of a young person in a pornographic situation in itself is victimization and a crime of the first order. The transmission of that is also a crime of the first order.

It think there is a positive duty on every Canadian, at least all those involved in the telecommunications services, the Internet service provider businesses and, by and large the Internet providers, to report those crimes. That is where the government has fallen down and that is why we are urging the Conservatives, on a completely non-partisan basis but a basis that says yes, to get this bill passed. We need to get on with it. We need to do something more effective and more in stream with the rest of the world and now the rest of the country.

As the Conservatives often say, but it rings so true in this case, “let us get the job done” with respect to the reporting and the cracking down on child Internet pornography sites.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

November 23rd, 2010 / 5:20 p.m.
See context

Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles
Québec

Conservative

Daniel Petit Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate at third reading on Bill C-22, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service.

This is an important piece of legislation that states that persons who provide an Internet service must report any online child pornography they are aware of.

I think that on both sides of the House, we all agree that our main duty as elected representatives is to protect the most precious and vulnerable members of our society, our children.

Obliging Internet service providers to report child pornography will enhance our ability to protect Canadian children against online sexual exploitation in many ways.

First, this measure will improve our ability to detect child pornography, which is becoming increasingly prevalent. Second, the bill will allow for communication that will help block access to child pornography sites through the Cleanfeed Canada program. Third, the measures provided for in the bill will make it easier to identify, arrest and prosecute individuals who commit child pornography offences. Most importantly, these measures will help identify the victims so that we can save them from sexual predators.

Last summer, the federal ombudsman for victims of crime published a special report entitled Every Image, Every Child, which provided an overview of the problem of the online sexual exploitation of children.

According to the special report, the number of charges for the production or distribution of child pornography increased by 900% between 1998 and 2003. Furthermore, the number of images of serious child abuse has quadrupled between 2003 and 2007. This report also said that 39% of people who access child pornography look at images of children between the ages of 3 and 5, and 19% look at images of infants under 3 years old.

According to this report, commercial child pornography is estimated to be a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide. Thousands of new images or videos are put on the Internet every week, and hundreds of thousands of searches for child sexual abuse images are performed daily.

It is estimated that there are more than 750,000 pedophiles online at any given time and some of them may have collections of over a million child sexual abuse images.

I have a few comments about two amendments made to the bill by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, of which I am a member. The definition of Internet services was slightly changed to specify that the bill applies to Internet service providers, in other words, people who provide services related to Internet access, content hosting and email.

The amendment applies only to the English version of the bill in order for the legislative text to accurately reflect the desired outcome and for the English version and the definition to better correspond to the French version.

The other amendment to Bill C-22 has to do with the provision on the possible double reporting in terms of the bill and the laws of a province or a foreign jurisdiction.

Essentially, Bill C-22 sets out two requirements for people who provide Internet services to the public. As far as the first requirement is concerned, persons who provide an Internet service to the public and who have been advised of an Internet address where child pornography may be available to the public are required to report to a designated agency such Internet addresses, otherwise known as IP or URL addresses.

In terms of the second requirement on notice and preservation, if a provider has reason to believe that its Internet services have been used in the commission of a child pornography offence, the provider is required to notify the police and preserve the evidence for 21 days.

Bill C-22 seeks to prevent double reporting to a designated agency when a service provider has already reported the incident, in compliance with an obligation under the laws of a province or a foreign jurisdiction. Nonetheless, the previous wording could have been interpreted to mean that the provider is relieved of notification and preservation duties. That was never the idea. The amendment specifies that Internet service providers who report an incident in compliance with the laws of a province or a foreign jurisdiction are released only of their reporting requirements.

The committee heard from representatives of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, which operates cybertip.ca, Canada's national 24/7 tip line for reporting the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet. At present, most reporting of child pornography across Canada is done through cybertip.ca or, in French, cyberaide.ca.

Within 48 hours, cybertip.ca agents review, analyze, and prioritize every report they receive. The agents verify the reports by collecting supporting information using various Internet tools and techniques. They also identify the location of the material in order to determine the appropriate jurisdiction. If the material is assessed to be potentially illegal, a report is referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for follow-up and investigation.

Cybertip.ca fulfills a valuable function for police across Canada by analyzing reports and forwarding only the most relevant information to law enforcement agencies. The material that is deemed not to be illegal is often followed up with educational information. Thus, the police do not have to use their resources to analyze reports of child pornography and can focus on investigations. Cybertip.ca has memoranda of understanding with most Canadian law enforcement agencies and collaborates closely with many of the Canadian ISPs and international partners, of course. Cybertip.ca—

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act
Government Orders

November 16th, 2010 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his suggestion. One of the things I have learned about this place is that people think that for every complex problem there is a simple solution, and that is wrong.

Some of the things that we deal with in this place on a criminal justice basis are very similar and probably should be dealt with in an omnibus bill. A number of bills propose changes to sentencing. Rather than having a separate bill for car theft, or another one for some other issue, et cetera, an omnibus bill tends to make the place inefficient. I would agree that if the government was serious about its crime agenda it would have brought like items together. The committee work could happen at the same time and the same witnesses could appear.

The member also raised another interesting point about the government being serious about its justice agenda.

Back in 2005, Internet service providers appeared before justice committee to say that they disagreed with being obligated to report matters related to the exploitation of children on the Internet. In 2006 the Conservatives took office and today we are still debating that bill, all because they want to have a silly, pissy short title for the bill. Rather than dealing with that directly they called an election and prorogued. The bill was Bill C-58 at one time and is now Bill C-22.

This shows that even on a straightforward issue such as dealing with the sexual exploitation of children through the Internet, the government is still spinning its wheels. Since 2006 the Conservatives have been holding up this bill. They are still holding it up just because they want a short title that says they are doing the job and getting tough on crime. This is outrageous. It is irresponsible.

Motion in amendment
Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

November 15th, 2010 / noon
See context

Mississauga—Erindale
Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-22 be amended by restoring Clause 1 as follows:

“1. This Act may be cited as the Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act.”

Mr. Speaker, I would like to restore the short title of the bill to its original form: the Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act.

At committee it was ruled by the chair that a motion to amend clause 1 was out of order and therefore the motion was not debated. This, I believe, resulted in the rejection of this clause. If there had been the opportunity to debate the importance of the short title, the following could have been noted:

Bill C-22 requires the mandatory reporting of child pornography by providers of Internet services. This will enhance Canada's capacity to better protect children from online sexual exploitation, period. I emphasize this is not to limit the bill's scope, but to underline the importance of the bill and its breadth.

The committee heard from the Minister of Justice and Ms. Lianna McDonald, the executive director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. Both emphasized the potential effects of this legislation and how it will protect children from online sexual exploitation.

It will do so in a number of ways. First, it will strengthen our ability to detect potential child pornography material. Second, reports generated under the bill will help block child pornography sites through Project Cleanfeed Canada. Third, the bill will facilitate the identification, apprehension, and prosecution of child pornography offenders. Fourth, and most important, the bill could help to identify the victims so that they may be rescued from sexual predators.

That is why the government had proposed the Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act as a short title for Bill C-22. This is clearly the ultimate objective of the bill, and the short title should be restored.

I am pleased to note that this important bill received all-party support and was improved with only two minor amendments for clarification.

Before I get to the specific amendments, I would like to say a few words generally about this piece of legislation and its purpose. I think everyone in the House would agree that there is no greater duty for us as elected officials than to ensure the protection of children, the most precious and vulnerable members of our society.

The creation of the Internet and the World Wide Web have provided new means for offenders to distribute and consume child pornography, resulting in a significant increase in the availability and volume of child pornography.

While Canada has one of the world's most comprehensive criminal law frameworks with which to combat child pornography, we can and must do better in protecting children from sexual exploitation.

The bill is a simple and straightforward approach to help achieve that goal in that it proposes to compel providers of Internet services to become active participants in the fight against child pornography and child sexual exploitation.

Bill C-22 will strengthen Canada's ability to detect potential child pornography offences; help reduce the availability of online child pornography; facilitate the identification, apprehension, and prosecution of offenders; and, most important, help identify the victims so they may be rescued from sexual predators.

It is my hope that reducing the amount of this vile material on the Internet will prevent other children from being abused, both in Canada and around the world.

I will now turn back to the committee proceedings and the amendments that were passed. Both amendments were for clarification and do not change the substance of the bill. The first change relates to the definitions and the definition of “Internet service” in particular. There was some concern that the enumeration of the services covered under the bill could be interpreted in a manner that would put the average citizen under a duty to report. However remote this interpretation may have been, the committee agreed that it should seize the opportunity to make the definition of “Internet service” crystal clear and consistent with the French definition.

The second amendment relates to the provision concerning laws of provincial or foreign jurisdictions. In essence, Bill C-22 imposes two duties on those who provide an Internet service to the public.

First, providers are required to report to a designated agency Internet tips that they might receive regarding websites where child pornography may be available to the public.

Second, if a provider has reason to believe that a child pornography offence has been committed using its Internet service, the provider is required to notify police and to preserve that evidence for 21 days.

The purpose of Bill C-22 is to ensure that service providers report child pornography that comes to their attention. Therefore, if the service provider has reported the child pornography incident under a similar duty, under either a provincial law or a law in a foreign jurisdiction, it has complied with the objective of the legislation, and, through this provision, with the legislation itself.

The intention of Bill C-22, however, was not to duplicate reporting to a designated agency where a service provider has already reported the same incident in accordance with the laws of a province or a foreign jurisdiction. In other words, the provision relieves a service provider of its duty to report under the proposed legislation if it has already reported the same incident under the legislation of another jurisdiction.

However, the committee was concerned that the provision related to more than just the reporting duty and could be interpreted as relating to the duty to notify. The duty to notify police arises when a service provider has a reasonable belief that a child pornography offence may have been committed on its system. Accompanying this duty to notify police is the duty to safeguard computer data that may result in evidence of the offence. This jurisdiction provision was never intended to relieve service providers of their duty to notify or preserve evidence. Therefore, the committee took the opportunity to clarify the issue and make specific reference to the section number relating to the duty to report.

Those were the two amendments made in committee, but I would like to touch on some important testimony that was given during the committee study of Bill C-22. The committee heard from representatives from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, which operates cybertip.ca, Canada's national 24/7 tip line for reporting the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet.

At present, most reporting of child pornography across Canada is done through cybertip.ca or, in French, cyberaide.ca. Within 48 hours, cybertip.ca reviews, prioritizes, and analyzes every report it receives. Cybertip.ca verifies the report by collecting supporting information using various Internet tools and techniques. It also identifies the location of the material in order to determine the appropriate jurisdiction. If the material is assessed to be potentially illegal, a report is referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for follow-up and investigation.

Each month cybertip.ca receives an average of over 800,000 hits and triages over 700 reports. Approximately 45% of reports are forwarded to law enforcement. As of June 2009, cybertip.ca had triaged over 33,000 reports since becoming Canada's national tip line in 2002. Over this period, more than 90% of the reports received by cybertip.ca were related to child pornography. At least 30 arrests have resulted from these reports, approximately 3,000 websites have been shut down, and, most important, children have been removed from abusive environments.

Finally, I would like to note that Bill C-22 was crafted with the following overarching principle in mind: that the legislation should not contribute to the consumption or further dissemination of child pornography. I submit that it has adhered to this principle. It is a simple bill that can do much good without unduly affecting the business practices of those who are compelled to comply. It strikes the necessary balance between public safety and the privacy rights. It is also another example of how this government has made the safety and security of Canadian children a top priority.

I urge the House to give its full support to this bill, as amended, so that it can be referred to the Senate and we can adopt this important piece of legislation without delay.

Motion in amendment
Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

November 15th, 2010 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak on Bill C-22.

In terms of background, the bill would make reporting Internet child pornography mandatory for Internet service providers and other persons providing Internet services. This is a very important concept whose time is long overdue.

The government has taken a very long time to reintroduce the bill. It has lost time in presenting the bill, due to prorogation. The bill's first iteration was Bill C-58. We all understand the issue of child pornography and we all know that children have to be protected. Children are an important asset. They need to be protected. They are vulnerable and they are easily misled.

My question to the government is, if protecting children from exploitation, as the short title says, is really a priority of the government, why then, after prorogation, did it take it four months to reintroduce this bill?

In fact, there was no change to the bill. The only thing that changed was the short title. Why? Regarding sexual exploitation, if protecting children is really a priority of the current government, then let us stick to the business of protecting children. Let us stick to the right law. The long title of the bill is, “An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service”. This is exactly what the bill would do. This is the formal title. It is an accurate title. The aim of legislation is to protect children from pornography and for the people who provide Internet services to report it.

So why is the government playing games?

The government has repeatedly changed the names of bills, without making any real changes to the bill itself. It has either changed titles or prorogued Parliament and reintroduced the same bills over and over again. Changing titles to political sound bites is not really protecting the kids.

The long title is precise. It describes exactly what Bill C-22 is supposed to do.

The short title is misleading. It overstates what the bill would do.

I would like to make it clear that the bill is a good bill. What we are debating here is why the government is wasting time to change the title of the bill.

The Liberals support the bill. We do not support the title. It is a step in the right direction to address the issue of child pornography and the issue of Internet predators and to make it the responsibility of the providers of Internet services to give us the information.

However, the bill would not completely solve any problems. That is why the short title really is not accurate. It does not reflect accuracy.

The Liberals attempted, at committee, to change the short title to represent what the bill would actually do. The Liberals proposed the “child pornography reporting act”, because that is exactly what this bill attempts to do. The amendment was rejected, so the Liberals decided to remove the short title completely.

Other opposition parties agreed at committee with the content of the long title, because as I said previously, it is what the bill would actually do.

This is not the first time that governments have tried changing or modifying titles. They have done it in Bill C-21, the bill to modify the Criminal Code in regard to sentencing for fraud. It was then replaced by a short title, saying it is the law to defend the victims of white-collar crime. The short title is really longer than the long title, which is the correct title.

If the government is serious about defending victims of white-collar crime, why did it take it 215 days after prorogation to commence the debate for the second time on this bill?

There was another bill, Bill C-16. It went through the same process.

It is obvious that the government is not really serious. The Conservatives claim to be the government with the law and order agenda, but we see the repeated bills, over and over again. If nothing gets passed through Parliament, the Conservatives prorogue Parliament and bring bills back to the House under different names. My question is then, why does the government not get serious about dealing with this issue? It should stop trying to score cheap political points.

In the stakeholders' view of the bill itself, the commissioner of police and the provincial police support this bill. The director of Cybertip.ca states that the bill is a step in the right direction. It is the good first step. The Canadian Centre for Child Protection states that this is a good, right step. Companies such as Bell, Rogers and Telus all agree that this is important.

Statistics Canada indicates that the illegal action of the people who rely on child pornography has increased from 55% in 1998 to 1,408% in 2008.

These images of pornography that are being accessed are horrifying. We all can probably give examples of children and young people who have been enticed on the Internet to do things that they would normally not do. Children are vulnerable. Children seek affection. Children think the person is telling the truth. When children are getting enticed by the Internet, it is important that this bill be put in place immediately.

Cybertip.ca made a presentation at committee and provided the committee with some very interesting information. What it said was very disconcerting. It said: 36% of the images analyzed by the centre depicted sexual assaults on children, and 64% depicted children in a deliberate sexual manner; 76% of web pages analyzed had at least one child abuse image where the child was less than eight years of age; and of the children abused through extreme sexual acts, including bestiality, bondage or torture and degrading acts such as defecation, 69% occurred against children under eight years of age.

What are we doing to protect our children? These are horrifying statistics.

Cybertip.ca also said 83% of the images were of female children.

Liberal members support this bill, but we do not want games being played on the backs of children. We want the law to be passed. We want the law to be effective. We want the law to be there so that, with the technologies that develop, the Internet users, the criminals who use these measures, are put to the test. We need to get them behind bars. We need to protect our children.

It was the former Liberal government in 2002 that made it illegal to deliberately access a website containing child pornography, rather than just having possession of such materials. It is important that we do it.

It was also the former Liberal government that put in place the law allowing a judge to order a service provider to supply the information to authorities when there are reasonable grounds to believe that child pornography is accessible through an Internet service provider.

It was the Liberals who put Cybertip.ca in place, an online reporting tool for child pornography.

The United States and Australia passed similar legislation in 2002 and 2005.

I urge the government to stop dragging its feet, stop playing games with short titles, and let us go forward with the bill.

Motion in amendment
Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

November 15th, 2010 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague.

The title of Bill C-22, which is the former Bill C-58—I will get back to this later and I hope that the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles will stay where he is, because we have some business to attend to—is “An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service.” This title seems perfect to us. But the government wants to call it by the short title, the “Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act”. In committee, we felt that this short title did not properly describe the objective of the bill. The Liberal Party agreed, and I believe that is also the case with my colleague. I hope that is what she understood.

I would like to know if that is why the Liberal Party and the other opposition parties will vote against the proposed amendment.

Motion in amendment
Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

November 15th, 2010 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, what I did mention is that the long title of the bill, which is An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service, is exactly what the bill does. The short title the Conservatives are proposing is “protecting children from online sexual exploitation act”, but that is not what it is doing.

The long title is exactly what the bill says. While we are debating titles, the long title should have stayed. If the government were really keen on protecting children, it should have stuck with the long title and moved forward because this bill is due and it is important that we get on with the work.

Motion in amendment
Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

November 15th, 2010 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I hope that my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles is listening to what I am saying to him. I would like to tell him that the comments he—the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice—made about the Bloc Québécois were unspeakable. He made these comments during an interview with GoFM RadioX in Abitibi—Témiscamingue on November 10, I believe.

The member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles made statements completely unworthy of his role. He is supposed to be the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice. He should have been more respectful of us but he dared to say that the Bloc Québécois does not support Bill C-22 and that the Bloc members—especially the members for Abitibi—Témiscamingue and Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou— need a swift kick in the you-know-what because they do not stand up for children.

I believe that the parliamentary secretary should be immediately relieved of his duties. And I hope this message goes all the way to the Prime Minister's Office.

I invite the public to read Vincent Marissal's blog from November 10, 2010. He writes for La Presse and he is not a federalist and definitely not a sovereignist. He said that the parliamentary secretary, the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, is nothing but an overblown orator and that the follies on the Internet need to stop. On his blog, he repeated the disrespectful comments—which is the only way I can think to describe them—made about the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou and me, the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue.

I want to tell the member, the parliamentary secretary, the real story. He should listen and be more attentive at the meetings of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, of which he is supposedly a member. He is there regularly; I see him. Maybe he is sleeping or recuperating from an illness, but we are working. And the Bloc Québécois is in favour of Bill C-22. Not only does the Bloc support Bill C-22, but it has already told the government, through its revered House leader, that this bill needs to be brought back quickly and passed because the police have been asking for this for a long time.

I have here Bill C-58, which is exactly the same as Bill C-22. Bill C-58 was introduced a year ago, in November 2009. If Parliament had not been prorogued, which is what the Conservatives do when things do not go their way, the former governor general would have long since given royal assent to Bill C-22. It is not the opposition members' fault; quite the contrary. I hope the parliamentary secretary will correct his remarks and at least apologize to the Bloc Québécois members, who are very concerned about child protection. When we look at Bill C-22, we see that the amendments do not reflect the will of the committee. That is why we will vote against this amendment, which would restore the short title. We will do so quickly.

The title of the bill is “An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service.” That and only that is the objective of Bill C-22. But with all due respect, Mr. Speaker, because this does not apply to you, the Conservatives do not understand anything. Unfortunately, some of your colleagues do not understand anything.

They do not understand that that is not what the short title says. The short title is the “Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act”. But this is not the purpose of the bill. I will explain for the benefit of the parliamentary secretary, who does not understand anything either. The bill would force Internet service providers to report people who may be using the Internet to distribute all sorts of pornography, not just child pornography. That is what the bill says, and that is what our Conservative colleagues do not understand. I am sure you understand, Mr. Speaker, but they do not.

At the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, we tried to explain this to them, but they did not get it. So we will be voting against the amendment, and the short title will disappear. That is clear. We want the public to understand that the idea is to force Internet service providers to make a report if their Internet service is used to distribute any pornography, not just child pornography. Unfortunately, all the people who appeared before the committee told us that in fact there was more child pornography on these sites. So obviously there is a need for tools.

Now I would like to talk about real things. I challenge the parliamentary secretary and the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, and even the anglophone parliamentary secretary, whom I cannot name, who spoke earlier. I challenge them to tell us how much money they are prepared to invest, for that will be the main issue. We asked them if they were prepared to implement this extremely important bill that police forces have been calling for for some time.

Special squads to track down these sexual predators will have to be created. This includes the Ontario Provincial Police, the Sûreté du Québec, the RCMP, the Montreal police and so on. Squads will have to be created within all police forces. People who appeared before the committee told us that is what it would take. Accordingly, the government needs to provide the necessary funding immediately. There is no doubt that the House will pass Bill C-22 very quickly and very soon, probably either today or tomorrow. It is very important.

This bill is being called for not only by police forces, but also by Internet service providers, who have indicated that they are currently under no obligation. Often when they discover something, it is too late. Indeed, we know how it works and it is extremely complicated. Some people explained that now is the time to fight this.

I am nearly out of time, for 10 minutes go by very quickly. I would simply like to tell those watching us that we will do everything we can to ensure this bill passes quickly, because we need to give police forces the means to fight the crimes that are unfortunately committed in cyberspace using 21st century tools. For that reason, and that reason alone, I urge all members here to vote in favour of this bill, so it can come into force immediately.

Motion in amendment
Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

November 15th, 2010 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know. I think that he may have just got carried away. Sometimes the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles does not behave like a parliamentary secretary, as was the case during the interview that aired on GO Radio X FM in Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

I can tell him that this interview has made the rounds. If he wanted to take the populist approach and tell us that we are worthless because we are not taking care of our country's children, he dropped the ball. And I hope that he heard how I picked it up during the three subsequent interviews I gave to all the media in the region.

I find that the parliamentary secretary sometimes goes too far. This is one of those times. In my opinion, he should choose his words more carefully in the future and, more specifically, verify the accuracy of what he is saying, which he clearly did not do.

I remember speaking to this chamber about Bill C-22 for 20 minutes and being questioned by him during the 10-minute question period following my speech, so something is amiss.

Not only is the Bloc Québécois in favour of Bill C-22, but it also insisted, through its revered House leader, that this bill be brought back quickly so that it could be implemented quickly.

Perhaps the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles and parliamentary secretary should choose his words more carefully and verify his sources in the future.

Motion in amendment
Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

November 15th, 2010 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his very interesting question and I would respond with a quote. Maybe they should call it the “protecting children from the Bloc, the Liberals and the NDP” act.

I am searching for the right words in order to respect the Speaker's decision, but that is exactly what he said. They want to appeal to the people by saying that they are fighting crime and doing everything they can. That is not true. The Bloc Québécois supported Bill C-22, formerly Bill C-58, from the very beginning. Four years ago we were saying that the police have to be given the tools to deal with 21st century crime.

The short title of the bill is “Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act”. It does not do that, and I especially do not want our Conservative friends to use this misleading title to spread unwelcome propaganda.

Motion in amendment
Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

November 15th, 2010 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to the proposed amendment by the government, which is a pretty straightforward one. All it does is put back the short title to Bill C-22.

In committee, the opposition parties, after analyzing the bill, unanimously came to the conclusion that the short title was just a piece of propaganda on the part of the government with really very little, if anything, to do with the content of the bill. For that reason, the committee voted to delete the short title. From a procedural standpoint, quite frankly, it does not make any difference in terms of the bill going through.

All opposition parties, as well as the government, are supportive of the bill. It is one that should have gone through the House years ago, but with the calling of prorogation and other stalling that the government did on its crime bills, it sat for years, and I mean that literally, before it came forth.

It is not a significant amendment in deleting the short title in terms of the content of the bill and the bill going forward. What it does is ask the government to get serious and stop playing partisan politics, especially with issues of online child pornography, with this. It asks the government to stop its propagandizing, to be honest in terms of its legislation and to stop using these silly titles.

This is not the first and probably not the last time that I will take some offence to this as a lawyer who practised in the courts. In court, as a practising lawyer, as an advocate for our clients, we obviously refer to legislation that is before the court on whatever issue we are dealing with. Historically in the courts we have used the short titles rather than the long titles to refer to the law. Just imagining myself in the court room using some of the short titles that the government has used, both in this bill and in other bills, I would be embarrassed as a practising lawyer.

I do not see myself as a practising lawyer doing anything other than protecting my client's interest when I am in the court room. I am not there, nor are the prosecutors and defence counsels in the country, to push the propaganda role that the partisan Conservative government wants to push when it comes to these short titles. We are not there for that purpose. That is demeaning, quite frankly, to our role as advocates.

We are there to deal with serious issues that are before the court, especially when we are dealing with an issue like online child pornography. We do not see ourselves as agents for the Conservative Party of Canada and its propaganda machine. For that reason alone, I have taken some offence to a number of the bills that have come forward with these short titles that are often misleading, and this is another example of it.

The short title the government is proposing to put back in, that we voted out at committee, talks about protecting children from online sexual exploitation. However, the long title, and the more accurate one by far, is Bill C-22, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service. The bill, in its entirety, is all about forcing, cajoling and encouraging Internet service providers to report if they identify it. Then, if on request or under warrant, that they provide additional information so it can be tracked. It is a tool that our police and prosecutors have needed for some time.

As I said earlier, for years we have been hearing from them. I know the justice minister regularly has heard from the other provincial justice ministers and attorneys general for this need for quite some time at their annual meetings or semi-annual meetings.

The bill has been before the House in the past. It has been sitting here waiting to be dealt with. Then we had either an election called or, on two occasions, prorogation and the bill just sat.

It is quite clear this is a valuable tool. It is why all the opposition parties are in favour of it. However, to trivialize it by throwing these silly titles in, which are either irrelevant or misleading, is something that we should not as legislators countenance. The government should be ashamed of itself for bringing this back. Had it brought a more meaningful short title back, it probably would have had support from this side of the House. All it did was bring back exactly the same wording, which as I said earlier is grossly misleading as to what the bill would do.

It is really a technical bill. It is one that is absolutely needed. To suggest that somehow this is the be all and end all of sexual exploitation over the Internet of our children is grossly misleading and not one that we should countenance as opposition parties or as the legislature as a whole.

Therefore, we will be voting against the amendment of the government. It does not advance the cause of fighting the issue of child pornography at all.

It was interesting when the parliamentary secretary asked a question earlier of one of my colleagues. In the course of the question there was at least an implication, if not an outright statement, that somehow we would be able to protect children from being abused in Canada. What came out in the hearing, when we dealt with the issue of online child pornography, was there were very few exceptions, and I think we have had three to five cases in Canada, where the child who was abused in the online material was in Canada.

That is why this title is so misleading. The reality is this abuse of the children is not occurring in Canada to any significant degree. Almost all of this material is coming in from international sources. The abuse is occurring in Asia, Africa, Europe and some places in the United States. In those countries when we identify the source, and we will be able to do that much better if we finally get the bill passed, through the Senate and get royal proclamation, it will allow us to help jurisdictions where the abuse has actually occurred.

The point I want to make, and this is why I am taking issue with the parliamentary secretary, is we know that in a number of the jurisdictions, and in fact a vast majority of the jurisdictions where this material is being produced, even if we do share the knowledge that we will obtain as to the source, the police forces, the prosecutors, the justice system will either be unwilling to respond or will not have the capacity to respond.

I think Canadians need to be aware of that. We fight it as much as we can in Canada, but this is an international problem and it is one that we cannot deal with entirely by ourselves. We need that co-operation at the other end and it is not always there. In fact, in a lot of cases it is not there at all.

Motion in amendment
Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

November 15th, 2010 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-22 at report stage and third reading.

I have been listening to my colleagues on both sides of the House with regard to Bill C-22 and the considerable comments that have been made about the government's attempt at third reading to bring back its original short title.

I want to discuss very briefly what the bill does because the Liberals support the bill. We think it is a positive step in the right direction. It would make reporting Internet child pornography mandatory for Internet service providers and other persons providing Internet services.

The government took too long to introduce this bill. We lost precious time when the former version of the bill—Bill C-58—died on the order paper when the Prime Minister decided to prorogue Parliament last year.

If protecting children from exploitation, as the government's original short title proclaimed and which the government is attempting to re-establish in the bill, were really a priority for the government, why did the government not only kill its own bill through prorogation but then take four months after Parliament resumed to reintroduce the bill? When it reintroduced the bill, the only change to its previous version, Bill C-58, was the short title.

The long title of the bill, which is An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service, is exactly what the bill does. It is the formal title and an accurate title.

However, when one looks over the landscape of government legislation, it is becoming increasingly clear that the government is now instituting a new political ploy, which is to change the names of its bills, those long, boring titles, to political sound bite titles in an attempt to oversell what the bill actually does and what the government is doing with regard to criminal justice.

The long title is precise and accurately describes what the bill does, whereas the government's short title that it put in its bill and which it is now attempting to re-establish in this bill, even though opposition members in committee voted it down, is deliberately misleading. It overstates what the bill actually does.

I want to make it perfectly clear that the Liberals believe this is a good bill, which is why we support it. However, we find it objectionable that the Conservative government is attempting to play political football with the lives of our children. This is too serious an issue for the government to politicize the issue by making a short title, which is nothing but a political sound bite and which overstates what the bill does.

The bill is the right step in the right direction in addressing this issue. We are pleased that the Conservative government has finally given this bill and this issue enough priority to no longer kill it through prorogation and no longer delay reintroducing it. When the government finally reintroduced the bill and moved second reading, it had the full co-operation of all three opposition parties to debate it quickly and comprehensively and get it to committee. In committee, we gave it priority and heard witnesses in a rapid fashion. We heard from the minister and proceeded to clause by clause because the opposition parties, particularly the Liberals, saw the importance of giving priority to this bill, something we did not originally see from the Conservative government.

The bill will not completely solve the problem, which is why the government's proposed short title is not accurate. As my colleague, the NDP justice critic, mentioned, the Liberals attempted in committee to change the short title so that it would accurately represent what the bill would do, which is child pornography reporting.

My colleague, the member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, proposed an amendment to the bill to change the short title of the bill to the child pornography reporting act. Unfortunately, the chair ruled the amendment out of order because we had not amended the content of the bill due to the fact that we were 100% in agreement with the content of the bill. Under the rules, in order to change a short title, even if the original short title does not accurately describe and represent the content of the bill, the chair has no choice but to rule a change to a short title out of order. Therefore, the chair did as he had to do, which was to rule the Liberal amendment out of order.

At that point, as my colleague, the NDP justice critic, mentioned, if the government had been serious about the content of the bill and the objective and aim of the bill and not interested in giving a higher priority to politicizing and attempting to use the issue for political gain on its part, it would have immediately said, “Look. You have a problem with the short tile. Let us work with it. Let us find a short title that we all agree with and we will put it through”.

The government did not do that. It did not approach me, and I am the Liberal critical for justice. I know for a fact that it did not approach my two colleagues who also sit on the committee. We just heard from the NDP justice critic that he was not approached by the government to try to come to some agreement as to the issue of the short title. Therefore, we decided to remove the short title completely.

We are content with the long title because, as I said, it actually states and describes accurately what the bill would actually do.

This is not the first time that the government has added a short title. We need only look at Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sentencing for fraud), to which the government gave the so-called short title of Standing up for Victims of White Collar Crime Act. The Conservative government's short title is actually longer than the real title. That is ridiculous.

If the government truly wanted to defend victims of white collar crime, why did the government and the Minister of Justice wait 215 days after prorogation in December 2009 before starting debate at second reading of Bill C-21?

This government claims to be the government of law and order.

It says that it is the party of law and order and yet, if we look at virtually every criminal justice bill, the government has played political football. It has either delayed tabling legislation or, if it tables it, it lets it sit on the order paper without moving second reading debate. It has prorogued the House knowing that its bill will be killed and then, when the House and Parliament comes back, rather than immediately re-tabling the bill, the government lets it sit before it actually tables it. The government is not actually interested in defending Canadians and ensuring they are safe. It is more interested in trying to gain political capital with playing with the lives and the safety of Canadians. That is a shame and it is despicable.

We do not like cheap political points that the government attempts to make with victims. We call on the government to stop doing that and it will get the co-operation of the official opposition.