Bill C-42 (Historical)
Strengthening Aviation Security Act
An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act
This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.
John Baird Conservative
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
- March 2, 2011 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
- Feb. 7, 2011 Passed That Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, as amended, be concurred in at report stage with a further amendment.
- Oct. 26, 2010 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
Business of the House
March 24th, 2011 / 3:05 p.m.
John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON
When members are called smug, they all cheer and applaud.
As for the business of the House, I believe the minister responsible for the Status of Women has a motion that she would like to move after I have concluded my response to the Thursday question. Following that, without anticipating the outcome of any vote of the House, there seems to be an appetite to allow members who will not be running in the next election to have two minutes each to make statements. Following these statements, we will continue with day one of the budget debate.
Tomorrow we will consider the last allotted day in this supply period. I do not know why the opposition coalition is talking about ending this very productive Parliament to force an unwanted and unnecessary election. Recent weeks have led me to conclude that this is the most dysfunctional Parliament in Canadian history.
Yesterday our Conservative government achieved royal assent for the following bills: Bill S-6 to eliminate the faint hope clause; Bill C-14 to provide hard-working Canadians some fairness at the gas pumps; Bill C-21 to crack down on white collar crime; Bill C-22 to crack down on those who would exploit our children through the Internet; Bill C-30, R. v. Shoker; Bill C-35 to crack down on crooked immigration consultants; Bill C-42 to provide aviation security; Bill C-48 to eliminate sentencing discounts for multiple murderers; Bill C-59 to get rid of early parole for white collar fraudsters, a bill the Liberal government opposed but the Bloc supported; Bill C-61, the freezing of assets of corrupt regimes; and Bill S-5, safe vehicles from Mexico. What a legacy for the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
The work of this Parliament is not done. There are a number of key and popular government bills that Canadians want. Next week, starting on Monday, we will call: Bill C-8, the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement; Bill C-46, the Canada-Panama free trade agreement; Bill C-51, investigative powers for the 21st century; and Bill C-52, lawful access.
Does the Minister of Justice ever stop fighting crime? He gets more and more done. In many respects, as House leader I am like the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice.
Of course, we need to complete the budget debate to implement the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a low tax plan for jobs and growth. Therefore, Tuesday we will debate day two of the budget, Wednesday we will debate day three of the budget and on Thursday we will debate day four of the budget. We have lots to do and I suggest to the members across that we turn our attention back to serving the interests of the public.
While I am on my feet, I would like to serve those interests by asking for unanimous consent for the following motion. I move that, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Marine Transportation Security Act shall be deemed to have been read a second time, referred to a committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.
March 24th, 2011 / 8:50 a.m.
Vic Toews Minister of Public Safety
Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. Once again I welcome the opportunity to be with you to discuss the estimates of the public safety portfolio.
As you indicated, Mr. Chair, I am joined here by the Deputy Minister of Public Safety, Mr. William Baker, as well as by senior officials of the five agencies in the public safety portfolio: the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Correctional Service of Canada, the Parole Board of Canada, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The committee has before it the main estimates for fiscal year 2011-12, which seek an increase in funds of $797.4 million over the fiscal year 2010-11 for the portfolio. The committee also has before it supplementary estimates (C), which seek approval for funds of $48.5 million for the current fiscal year. These estimates do not reflect initiatives announced in Budget 2011.
As demonstrated in this week's tabling of the budget, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan recognizes the importance of keeping our communities safe by investing in crime prevention and the justice system, with such measures including investing $20 million over two years in the youth gang prevention fund to promote the provision of community-based educational, cultural, sporting, and vocational opportunities for youth; promoting safer aboriginal communities by investing an additional $30 million over two years in the first nations policing program to supplement existing policing services; funding of $8.4 million per year to Canada's no-safe-haven policy for persons involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide; providing $26 million over two years to support the federal victims’ ombudsman to promote access to justice and participation by victims in the justice system; funding $20.9 million to continue to waive firearms licence renewal fees for all classes of firearms from May 2011 until May 2012; and contributing $1.6 million annually to support security enhancements for communities victimized by hate-motivated crime.
These are only a few highlights of this week's budget; however, they stand as a testament to our government's continued commitment to protecting the safety and security of all Canadians.
The committee has before it the main estimates for fiscal year 2011-12, which provide for the day-to-day operations of the portfolio throughout the fiscal year in accordance with our government's ongoing commitment to continue building safer communities for all Canadians at a time of government restraint.
In addition, funds would be prudently invested to provide the Correctional Service of Canada and the National Parole Board of Canada with the resources to implement the Truth in Sentencing Act and the Tackling Violent Crime Act.
It would allow the RCMP to meet incremental requests for policing services by provinces, territories, municipalities, and first nations communities while also implementing or renewing a number of initiatives to further crack down on the activities of organized crime groups as well as others who would threaten the safety and security of Canadians.
It would strengthen the ability of the Canada Border Services Agency to keep our borders secure while expediting the legitimate flow of people and goods across them, and it would allow the agency to support the integrity of Canada's immigration and refugee program by implementing the Balanced Refugee Reform Act.
It would deliver on the commitment I believe all of us share to protecting Canada's digital infrastructure from current and emerging cyber threats by providing needed resources for the implementation of Canada's cyber security strategy, which our government announced in September.
Our efforts to tackle crime will cost more money. We understand there is a cost to keeping dangerous criminals behind bars, and we're willing to pay it. This is a small price to pay to ensure dangerous criminals don't create new victims or terrorize previous ones. We want to ensure that Correctional Service Canada has the resources it needs to keep dangerous criminals behind bars and ensure that our methods and infrastructure keep up with, indeed get ahead of, new forms of criminality.
The protection of Canadians must come first. As victims have repeatedly told us, releasing criminals onto our streets early has a much higher cost than keeping criminals behind bars. In fact, a recent report released by the Department of Justice estimated the total cost of crime to Canadians in 2008 to be $99.6 billion. I'm very pleased that Conservative members of this committee have recently written the Parliamentary Budget Officer requesting a study analyzing the socio-economic cost of crime for victims, governments, and our communities. I agree with my colleagues on the committee that this is an area that has not received adequate priority and analysis.
Our government is aware of the reality and we are prepared to take the steps that will be needed to ensure that Correctional Services of Canada has the tools they need. The main estimates for fiscal year 2011-12 seek an increase to Correctional Services of Canada's budget of $521.6 million, of which $458 million relates to the implementation of the Truth In Sentencing Act, and a further $19.6 million is requested for the implementation of the Tackling Violent Crime Act.
In addition, the main estimates for 2011-12 seek an increase to the Parole Board of Canada's budget of $2.8 million, of which $1.6 million represents the third of six annual increases related to the government's Truth In Sentencing Act. Canadians have told us they want to feel safe on their own streets and in their own communities. They have told us they want police to have the resources they need to do the job. They have told us they want stiffer consequences and stiffer punishments for serious crimes, especially violent gun crimes. They have told us that they want offenders held more fully to account for their actions, and they have told us that they want the interest of victims put ahead of those of offenders. That is what our government is doing.
We are working with Canadians to restore faith in our justice system. All of us have been busy in this session. We have worked together on Bill S-13, which is the Protecting Borders Act, more commonly referred to as “Shiprider”. This is important legislation that would permit designated Canadian and American law enforcement personnel to jointly work on maritime law enforcement vessels in boundary waters and pursue criminals who try to exploit law enforcement gaps at our shared waterways.
We have worked hard on Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, which is important and very much needed by Canadian travellers as it is going to allow Canadian airline companies to continue accessing southern destinations in the most timely and cost-effective way possible. And it is going to ensure that we continue to strike the appropriate balance between complying with international laws while also protecting the rights of Canadians.
We've worked together to pass reforms to the pardon system so that the Parole Board of Canada has the discretion it needs to determine whether or not granting a pardon might bring the administration of justice into disrepute.
Our children have the right to be safe from sex offenders. That's why I'm very proud that all of us worked to pass legislation to strengthen the national sex offender registry and the national DNA data bank so that all sex offenders are registered with the police.
Tackling crime on all fronts remains a key priority for our government, which is why we also recently introduced legislation to combat the despicable crime of human smuggling. This is indeed a major concern for our government. We need the help of all members of Parliament to pass our firm and reasonable measures that would prevent human smugglers from abusing our fair and welcoming immigration system.
Most recently, we passed reasonable measures to ensure that convicted con artists, fraudsters, and drug traffickers won't be released automatically onto our streets after serving just one-sixth of their prison sentence.
Finally, our Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act passed through the Senate, and we have announced new RCMP technology that will help reduce wait times for individuals, including hockey coaches and teachers, to receive police checks to be able to work with the most vulnerable in our society.
Keeping our communities safe has been a priority for this government, and I know it's a priority for members of this committee. We have taken action on a number of fronts to deliver on our commitment. We will continue to do so in the future, and I look forward to working with this committee over the coming months on a number of fronts to keep Canadians safe.
I am now prepared to answer questions, Mr. Chair.
March 8th, 2011 / 3:30 p.m.
Chuck Strahl Minister of Transport
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for the invitation to meet with you and the committee.
I'm pleased to be here with my colleague, Minister Rob Merrifield, to provide you with an update on the transport, infrastructure, and communities portfolio.
I'd also like to extend my thanks for the hard work you've done recently on Bill C-33, the Safer Railways Act; Bill C-42, the Strengthening Aviation Security Act; and Bill C-511, the Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act.
With us today are Yaprak Baltacioglu, Deputy Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities; John Forster, associate deputy minister of infrastructure; and André Morency, assistant deputy minister of corporate management and crown corporations governance at Transport Canada.
Committee members, at our previous appearance, in December, we provided you with an update on the portfolio. I spoke about the funds under my portfolio and how our infrastructure investments are benefiting communities across Canada, as well as our successful and productive partnerships with provinces, territories, and municipalities. I also spoke about aviation security and our borders and gateways.
Minister Merrifield spoke about Marine Atlantic Incorporated.
Today I'd like to update you on our accomplishments to date under the transport and infrastructure portfolio, as well as speak to you about what the future may bring.
In my December appearance, I spoke to you about the four funds that Infrastructure Canada manages under the economic action plan: the $4 billion infrastructure stimulus fund; the $1 billion green infrastructure fund; the $500 million top-up to the communities component of the Building Canada fund; and the $25 million for the National Trails Coalition.
As part of the economic action plan, the Government of Canada accelerated and streamlined existing funds under the $33 billion Building Canada plan announced in Budget 2007. We did this so that our partners could benefit from these funds earlier than originally scheduled.
Across all of its programs since January 2009, Infrastructure Canada has now committed over $10.75 billion toward more than 6,300 infrastructure projects as part of Canada's economic action plan. When combined with the contributions of our funding partners, this means that approximately $31 billion is being committed to infrastructure projects across the country.
Shortly before my last appearance before this committee, the Prime Minister announced an extension to four of the funds under the economic action plan and extending the deadline to October 31, 2011. This extension includes two of Infrastructure Canada's funds—the infrastructure stimulus fund and the top-up to the Building Canada fund's communities component.
We've also been encouraged to see that most projects are still on target to be completed by March 31 of this year. A recent example of a project that will be fully completed by the end of this month are the new sails at Canada Place, which the Prime Minister visited on February 21. It's great to see that project, one of many that will be completed on time and on budget.
Across the country work is progressing extremely well. I know that some proponents who would have completed their projects by the deadline are taking advantage of the extra time for construction, which in some cases is resulting in savings on project costs. This sustained stimulus to the economy is allowing Canada to maintain its strength as we emerge from the recession, while respecting the fragility of the global recovery and without increasing costs for the taxpayers. It's a good win-win-win.
As we move forward in our exit strategy for the economic action plan, it's important to note that infrastructure funding will continue to flow to municipalities across the country. Infrastructure Canada is continuing to play a significant role in delivering long-term funding under the $33 billion Building Canada plan, including the gas tax fund. The gas tax fund was doubled to $2 billion per year in 2009, and the government has announced this funding is permanent so that communities can continue to rely on stable, reliable funding for their important infrastructure projects.
I will turn to transport. We continue our efforts to provide a safe and secure, efficient, and environmentally responsible transportation system. We're proud of this system because it's among the best in the world, and with the input of Canadians, all orders of government, and private stakeholders, we're making it even better.
I am a firm believer that progress can only be made through partnership.
I guess all of us in government realize that these world-class transportation systems aren't built from the top down. They really require those partnerships to be serious. It requires that we listen to those partners, and it really requires all of us, whether we're in the private or public sector, to work together. It's why I've been travelling across the country, speaking with everyday Canadians and with industry groups, getting a sense of their transportation vision. These groups include, amongst many others, the Chamber of Marine Commerce, the Railway Association of Canada, and WESTAC—I had a meeting a week or so ago in B.C—to name just a few. We've heard great ideas and will continue to dialogue with them as we move forward through the new year.
Today is also about moving forward. I know in the supplementary estimates we're seeking $23.9 million to take action on initiatives that were not fully developed or known when the main estimates were prepared, initiatives such as $14 million in annual funding to support the regional and remote passenger rail services class contribution program. That program ensures safe and reliable access to passenger rail service and ensures that it's provided to certain regional and remote areas of the country by contributing to operating and capital requirements for these important rail services.
The estimates also include $7.4 million for operating requirements related to the ferry services contribution program. This program supports regional and remote ferry services in Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec. These services not only provide safe transportation to communities, but they support eastern Canada's regional economy and the transportation network.
This program supports regional and remote ferry services in Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec. These services not only provide safe transportation to communities, they support eastern Canada's regional economy and the transportation network.
Existing agreements for these various services are set to expire on March 31, but on November 30, 2010, the Government of Canada announced an investment of up to $44.7 million to support ferry operations and to maintain the ferry assets.
In previous appearances before this committee, I have discussed the importance of the government's gateways and corridors strategy, which positions Canada as an integrated, efficient, and reliable transportation route. I know there's interest in the committee about the gateways. We continue to make progress on the 47 infrastructure projects that are part of the Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor initiative. We're moving forward with great interest and quite a bit of pride in how that has been rolled out. The next phase of the gateway will focus more on issues such as modernizing policy, regulatory issues, and legislative frameworks. This will improve efficiency and reliability through that partnership, which has been enhanced through this whole initiative, while boosting innovation.
I'm convinced it will also lever the benefits that both the private and public sectors gain from the Asia-Pacific initiative, and that's becoming more clear as we move through the process into phase two.
The line item noting the reprofiling of $17.1 million in funding for the Asia-Pacific gateway will help this process continue, and lessons that were learned on the Asia-Pacific gateway, which was first out of the gate, if I can use that phrase, will be applied to the Atlantic gateway and the Ontario-Quebec continental gateway.
You'll notice also, and this I think I should highlight, that within the estimates we're seeking to access $1 million from previously frozen allotments due to the reprofiling of funds for the acquisition of real property for the Detroit River international crossing, which is a key part of the continental gateway. We remain committed to the building of that new crossing. We continue to work closely with the State of Michigan and the United States government to make it a reality. We are monitoring the Michigan legislative process and continue to urge the Michigan legislature to authorize this project, which will benefit workers and industry on both sides of the border.
Now I will turn the microphone over to Minister Merrifield to speak on a specific line item.
The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, be read the third time and passed.
Strengthening the Aeronautics Act
March 2nd, 2011 / 3:15 p.m.
John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find unanimous consent of the House for the following motion. I move:
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, the previous question to the motion for third reading of C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, be deemed withdrawn and that the question on the motion for third reading of the said bill be deemed put and a recorded division be deemed requested and deferred to the end of government orders today.
(Bill C-42. On the Order: Government Orders)
March 1, 2011--Third reading of Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act--Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities; and of the motion that this question be now put--Minister of State (Transport).
Strengthening Aviation Security Act
March 1st, 2011 / 5:25 p.m.
Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON
Mr. Speaker, I would join the Leader of the Opposition in my concern about the perimeter talks. One of the concerns we have is about the SPP. We have not seen anything come before Parliament. He is quite right to underline the concerns that Canadians have about that. We and other members of the opposition, the Bloc, share the same concerns.
The thing that is hard to understand is what we do know.
We do not know the details of the perimeter talks because the government has not brought forward details of what is being discussed and what is at stake. We hear things. We hear about energy being shipped south, about supplies that we have not been told about and at what cost. We hear about standards for border security, products, food, etc.
However, we do know about this bill. Hopefully, the Leader of the Opposition has read this bill or had someone advise him about it. Unlike the perimeter security deal, we know about this one, and this one is going to compromise Canadians' privacy. This is not abstract, but concrete. This will give up Canadians' privacy to our friends south of the border.
Therefore, I would tell my colleague from Vancouver that we really do want to encourage the Liberals to look at this. In all sincerity, if they are concerned about privacy and sovereignty, there is an easy choice: vote no to Bill C-42.
Strengthening Aviation Security Act
March 1st, 2011 / 5:15 p.m.
Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join my colleagues in opposition to Bill C-42. It is clearly an important bill when we look at what is at stake.
There used to be a solid core of supporters and even members within the Conservative Party who prided themselves on the issue of privacy protection. That seems to have been lost recently. It has been pawned off at times, and I give the example of the bizarre and unusual case of the census conundrum.
The government has said that it wants to make sure that the privacy of citizens is protected. It has said that citizens should not feel obligated to tell the government how many bathrooms they have in their domain and other personal information. When asked how many people had actually complained about this, the government said one was enough. We are still not sure who that one person is. Some people think it might have been someone in the minister's backyard.
The point is this is not about the census and people know that. We in this Parliament are bound by the provisions for protection. We have the oversight. The problem with this bill is that we would be handing over Canadians' right to privacy to another government.
The government has talked about not being able to pony up the money for the database for the collection of this information. Not only will information be handed over to another government but that information will be held by that government and we will not be able to get to it.
I really want to underline the importance of the intervention made by my colleague from Windsor. I have had case after case right here in the nation's capital involving people who have been denied entry into the United States. When our government is asked what can be done, we are pointed to homeland security in the United States.
I do not know if the same situation exists in Saskatchewan, but I do know that people right across this country have been faced with it. If a constituent is on a no-fly list, his or her member of Parliament will probably talk to the minister or someone in his department. They are told that this is something that the department cannot handle. This is under the oversight of homeland security in the United States. After a very long route through voice mail, we can bring forward the case but that is the end of it. We will not be heard again.
Right now we have problems with regard to Canadians being able to freely travel abroad, particularly south of the border, and we have not figured that out yet. The government has been very silent on this during this debate. The government is going to oblige the United States when asked for this information, but we have not even figured out how to get someone's name off a no-fly list.
Constituents are scratching their heads and wondering why they cannot cross the border into the United States. They cannot figure out a way to get their name off the no-fly list. The government is about to open this up even further by sharing data through Bill C-42. It does not make sense.
Where is the consistency within the Conservative Party that used to stand up for privacy? This is not about the census. This is not about how many bathrooms there are in somebody's house. This is about a person's ability to travel abroad without the fear of being put on a no-fly list or without the sharing of personal information. That is what we are talking about here. We are talking about providing credit card information. We are talking about providing the date of birth of a Canadian citizen.
This reminds me of the debate in the House on Bill C-31 to reform the Canada Elections Act, when Liberals and the Bloc wanted to support an amendment to that bill and to streamline electoral practices by putting birth dates on the list.
Members may remember this. There was a strong debate in committee. I asked Ms. Stoddart, the Privacy Commissioner, to come before committee to get her opinion on whether she thought having birth date information on an electoral list was a good idea. At the time I was not supported by the Liberals, Conservatives and the Bloc, who said that we had already heard from Ms. Stoddart. The problem was we had heard from Ms. Stoddart before the amendment was put forward.
I wrote to Ms. Stoddart and asked her opinion, as Privacy Commissioner, about having one's birth date on the electoral list.
Mr. Speaker, you will know, having been in a couple of campaigns, that the electoral list is shared widely. To have that kind of private information, with people's dates of birth, on a list that is circulated so widely is asking for trouble. Allowing others to take people's information from the electoral list to apply for a credit card or to do the other things that data miners do opens up many doors.
At the time, Ms. Stoddart got back to me and the House and said she had grave concerns about this compromising Canadians' privacy. Eventually, thankfully, that bill was dropped, but it was about to go through the House. It is the NDP Party that stood against that flagrant abuse of Canadians' privacy.
Again, I go back to the Conservatives and ask what happened. They used to be the ones who talked about protecting privacy. Now it is only about whether people have to say how many bathrooms they have in their homes. That is the line in the sand now.
What about when someone travels abroad? What about when someone's data is collected and captured by another country? Does that not matter any more to the Conservatives? Is it simply a matter of shrugging and saying this is the way we do things now? I want to underline that because this is a government bill.
To my friends in the Bloc and the Liberal Party, reviewing things after five years is not going to do what is needed, or even within two years or a year. If it is bad legislation now, do not pass it. When they vote for this bill, they are blessing this process. It is too late a year later, when a constituent asks how his or her information got into a database in the United States, to say we were told that it would not happen, that we trusted this would be a process our officials would keep their eye on. That is not good enough.
Today opposition members have an opportunity to say no to this bill. It is not about saying we do not want to negotiate with our friends south of the border. It is in fact saying that we should negotiate with our friends south of the border, which we did not do.
I am surprised that both the Liberals and the Bloc have decided this bill is okay. I say this because I know many of them and know that their constituents will be concerned about privacy. I am sure many of their constituents have been on the no-fly list and have not been able to get their names off it. I am sure many members have had to deal with those cases.
At the end of the day, I return to the issue of whether this is a good deal for Canadians. I say it is not: it puts our privacy in peril. If that is the case, then we as New Democrats say no to this bill. We need a better deal and we say no to Bill C-42.
Strengthening Aviation Security Act
March 1st, 2011 / 5 p.m.
Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON
Madam Speaker, I must admit that I rise with some concern having to follow the eloquence and passion of the member for Winnipeg Centre and now the member for Timmins—James Bay. They are always a little intimidating to follow because of their eloquence and oratorical skills, quite frankly.
The member for Timmins—James Bay is suggesting intelligence, and I am going to take issue with him on that, not with regard to the member for Winnipeg Centre but for the member for Timmins—James Bay. The eloquence and oratorical skills are clearly there, which are skills that are sorely lacking in the House in many ways.
This is the second time this week I have spoken to this bill. I spoke yesterday on the same bill, but at that time I was specifically speaking to the contents of the bill. I will come back to that in a few minutes, but I want to address some comments on the reason I am allowed to speak the second time, as have so many of my caucus members, which we would not have been allowed to do according to the rules of the House but for a typical bullying manoeuvre by the government. What it did was this. Late yesterday afternoon it brought a motion to the House, which certainly is within its rights to do, which had in effect the purpose of shortening debate on the bill. That was moved yesterday by the House leader, but what that did was re-open the debate.
We are allowed not only to speak against why debate should be continued. We are also allowed to explain the significance and importance of Bill C-42 to the Canadian people and their basic rights which are fundamental to the democracy that is Canada. Quite frankly, it is ironic. Had the Conservatives not brought that motion, the debate probably would have ended sooner simply because we would have run out of time in terms of the number of speakers we had who wanted to speak to this.
I want to make the point very clearly that our caucus is utterly opposed to this bill because of the breaches of privacy and also because of fundamental rights that will be affected very negatively by this law if previous patterns in the United States follow. Our caucus is absolutely opposed to the bill. A large number of caucus members have insisted on being given their opportunity to speak to the bill to express the reasons why they and their constituents are opposed to it.
To some extent, I have to thank the Conservatives for giving us this opportunity to speak more. Yesterday I was limited to 10 minutes, with five minutes of questions and comments. I am getting a second chance because our time for the 20 minute speeches had lapsed.
This is a criticism of both the government and the Liberal official opposition. Both parties have stood in the House at various times, both at second reading and again at third reading, and argued that we had to pass this because it was being demanded by the United States. This is particularly true of the Liberals but also of the Conservatives, that they have tried to somehow rationalize their support for the bill on the basis that we know there is potential for problems. Both sides of the House, the government party and the official opposition, have, in their more honest moments, admitted that. There is real potential for abuse to the Canadian citizenry. We hear repeatedly the line, “We will take care of that down the road”. That is grossly irresponsible on the part of any parliamentarian. We are talking about basic privacy rights and also the high risk to other fundamental rights, human rights and civil liberties.
There is no reason to believe that it will not happen given the history of the U.S. no-fly list and the way the Americans have abused both their own citizenry and some of ours in the past. There is no reason to believe that it will not occur again.
What is happening here, if this bill goes ahead, is we are exposing many more thousands of Canadian citizens and residents to their names ending up on that no-fly list and the process being used against them.
One of the real problems with this legislation is the regime in the United States that deals with the no-fly list. We know, and this came up at committee repeatedly, that the no-fly list in the United States is full of errors. We always hear of the reality of the now deceased Ted Kennedy's name being on it. The former interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Bill Graham, was on the no-fly list. We have heard from my colleague from Winnipeg Centre that he is on the list.
The point being is that it is obvious that those people do not pose, in any way, a threat to the United States, and certainly are not a terrorist threat. In many other ways they may pose a threat to some of the policies of the United States, but that is okay in a democracy. People are allowed to have that voice.
The problem is people like that, and many more, get their names on the no-fly list and there is essentially no way of getting their name off. There is no way for it to happen. For the average person, the process does not exist. If those names came off the list, if Mr. Graham's name came off, or if Mr. Kennedy's came off, it was because there was some political person somewhere who said that it was really dumb and that maybe those names should be taken off, and then some official somewhere was directed to get their names off the list. We have no idea how that happens.
As I said in my speech yesterday, I have been working for the better part of a year on behalf of a prominent citizen in the Windsor area. It is going to be extremely damaging if it ever comes out that his name is on that list. I can say with absolute honesty and frankness that I have tried every single angle, including political routes, and have had no luck in getting his name off the list. We cannot even figure out who is ultimately going to be able to do that.
We have had other cases. The member for Vancouver East had one three, four or five years ago. It was for someone who was from Ontario, but who was on the west coast. It dealt with flying into the United States on business and then flying home. When this person gets to the airport in Vancouver, he is told, “Sorry, you're not allowed on the plane. Your name is on the list”. There was no explanation as to which list it was at that time. We subsequently learned, quite frankly from information from one of the clerks at the desk, that it was the U.S. no-fly list.
He has not been able to get his name off this list. So any flights that he takes now in Canada, he has to be sure that he is not in any way going through U.S. airspace because he will not be allowed on the plane.
It is a system that is rife with abuse. It is a system that is also grossly inefficient. It does not work. That is the bottom line. Yet, we are being told here, both by the Conservatives and the Liberals, “You have to vote for this because our American neighbours who we all know are great negotiators are saying that is the only way we are going to allow you to fly through our airspace”.
It is interesting in that regard. That threat has been outstanding. It was supposed to be in effect at the end of December, if this bill did not go through, and all flights flying through U.S. airspace would be cut off. Here we are at March 1 and our planes are still flying.
We have to continue to call the Americans' bluff and say that we are not going to do this, that if they clean up their list and implement some meaningful protections within that system, so that people whose names get on the list erroneously can get them off in an efficient, quick way, then we will negotiate with them as to whether we are going to allow this information. But before that, this bill should be voted down.
Strengthening Aviation Security Act
March 1st, 2011 / 4:55 p.m.
Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC
Madam Speaker, there was some excellent testimony at committee about this bill and I want to make sure the voices are heard in this debate.
Dr. Mark Salter, a professor at the University of Ottawa, stated:
Governments want this information so that they can build profiles of not just risky passengers but safe passengers as well. Research clearly demonstrates that in the United States and the U.K., government agencies are trying to collect as much data about travellers as possible.
He went on to say:
--I think it is dangerous to sacrifice our privacy and our freedoms for the dream of zero risk or perfect security. This particular measure—
Speaking about Bill C-42:
—does not provide additional security for the aviation sector, and it places an additional burden on Canadian citizens who are flying...
Canadians' data should not be hostage to the most paranoid regime that an air company chooses to fly over. The proposed change to these data protection regulations to include overflight states dramatically increases the vulnerability of Canadians' data while offering no means of redress or appeal.
I am wondering if my hon. colleague can comment on the situation where experts testify before the transport and public safety committees that roundly condemn this bill from stem to stern and yet the government does not pay any attention to that expert evidence and plows ahead.