Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act

An Act to enact the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act and to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.


Vic Toews  Conservative


Second reading (House), as of Feb. 14, 2012
(This bill did not become law.)


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

Part 1 enacts the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act, which requires telecommunications service providers to put in place and maintain certain capabilities that facilitate the lawful interception of information transmitted by telecommunications and to provide basic information about their subscribers to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Commissioner of Competition and any police service constituted under the laws of a province.

Part 2 amends the Criminal Code in respect of authorizations to intercept private communications, warrants and orders and adds to that Act new investigative powers in relation to computer crime and the use of new technologies in the commission of crimes. Among other things, it

(a) provides that if an authorization is given under certain provisions of Part VI, the judge may at the same time issue a warrant or make an order that relates to the investigation in respect of which the authorization is given;

(b) provides that the rules respecting confidentiality that apply in respect of a request for an authorization to intercept private communications also apply in respect of a request for a related warrant or order;

(c) requires the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to report on the interceptions of private communications made without authorizations;

(d) provides that a person who has been the object of an interception made without an authorization must be notified of the interception within a specified period;

(e) permits a peace officer or a public officer, in certain circumstances, to install and make use of a number recorder without a warrant;

(f) extends to one year the maximum period of validity of a warrant for a tracking device and a number recorder if the warrant is issued in respect of a terrorism offence or an offence relating to a criminal organization;

(g) provides the power to make preservation demands and orders to compel the preservation of electronic evidence;

(h) provides new production orders to compel the production of data relating to the transmission of communications and the location of transactions, individuals or things;

(i) provides a warrant to obtain transmission data that will extend to all means of telecommunication the investigative powers that are currently restricted to data associated with telephones; and

(j) provides warrants that will enable the tracking of transactions, individuals and things and that are subject to legal thresholds appropriate to the interests at stake.

It also amends offences in the Criminal Code relating to hate propaganda and its communication over the Internet, false information, indecent communications, harassing communications, devices used to obtain telecommunication services without payment and devices used to obtain the unauthorized use of computer systems or to commit mischief.

Part 2 also amends the Competition Act to make applicable, for the purpose of enforcing certain provisions of that Act, the new provisions being added to the Criminal Code respecting demands and orders for the preservation of computer data and orders for the production of documents relating to the transmission of communications or financial data. It also modernizes the provisions of the Act relating to electronic evidence and provides for more effective enforcement in a technologically advanced environment.

Lastly, it amends the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act to make some of the new investigative powers being added to the Criminal Code available to Canadian authorities executing incoming requests for assistance and to allow the Commissioner of Competition to execute search warrants under the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.

Part 3 contains coordinating amendments and coming-into-force provisions.


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.

Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act
Private Members' Business

December 5th, 2013 / 5:50 p.m.
See context


Raymond Côté Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I see that there has been a huge reaction to Nelson Mandela's death. I was saddened to hear the news. He unfortunately passed away after a long and full life.

I want to take this opportunity to say that the fight against apartheid was a great source of pride for Canadians. We could be very proud of our government, which was a leader in this battle. By making Mr. Mandela an honorary citizen, we paid tribute to him and to the great figures from this country who sought to defend and promote human rights.

I know that there will be more elaborate tributes, so I will speak to the wonderful bill introduced by my colleague from Terrebonne—Blainville. I think it is wonderful because I admire that my colleague is looking to innovate, to get us caught up and to anticipate some very serious problems related to the major changes society is experiencing so rapidly.

I want to read the first part of section 10.01:

For the purposes of this section and section 10.02, “harm” includes bodily harm, humiliation, embarrassment, injury to reputation or relationships, loss of employment, business or professional opportunities, financial loss, identity theft, identity fraud, negative effects on credit rating and damage to or loss of property.

I read that section because I think it is important to understand that our world has changed considerably and has done so very quickly.

I have already mentioned in this House that I used to be an archivist. I therefore understand the importance and value of information, especially when it is nominative information. I worked in this field for a long time, and my job would have eventually included applying the principles associated with the protection of personal information. I would have done it as a professional, but the organization I belonged to as an archivist would have also fully applied these principles.

I am not that old, but I graduated quite a while ago, in the early 1990s. At that time, our tools were far more limited. The emergence of computers began to change things, but the possibilities were much more limited than they are today.

I also had the privilege to read notarial deeds from the first half of the nineteenth century. To give some background, many parents passed on a parcel of land to their descendants. More often than not, the heir was their son. They would place a clause in the deed requesting support from their son as the new owner of the land, because social programs did not exist at that time.

Since that time so long ago, our society has changed so much that we now totally depend on exchanging money to live. Things were different 150 or 200 years ago, when we could depend on the strength of our arms, the bounty of our land and our ability to obtain almost everything we needed without spending a single cent.

There has been a profound change over the last 15 or 20 years. The electronic means with which we carry out our transactions have not only become commonplace, but are also extensively used by all generations.

The Internet and the numerous sites that facilitate transactions and offer new ways to trade and barter create new opportunities. This is like the wild west. Anything is possible, both good things and, unfortunately, abuses by dishonest individuals. It is really deplorable that the government would neglect Canadians and contemplate spying on them through legislation such as Bill C-30. Instead, the government should have taken into consideration these new tools and imposed a requirement to take precautions and report incidents resulting from the loss, theft or unintentional or negligent transmission of sensitive data. In the case of lost or stolen sensitive data, the technology is now so quick that in just a few hours these sensitive data can be used to commit fraud or abuse or to damage someone's reputation. It can be used widely, to the detriment of the aggrieved individual. The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville is taking a particularly important, crucial and laudable initiative to the great shame of the government, which should have done this itself.

Since the government was not taking action, the official opposition put forward a proposal and one of its brightest members proposed a solution widely supported by the testimony of leading experts. There are many of them. It is a great pleasure for me to put things in perspective and, more importantly, to call on the government to take a serious look at this bill in committee, because this is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss. The Governments of Alberta and Quebec are already ahead of the federal government and have plugged some holes. If the federal government does not follow suit and correct the flaws that exist in the legislation, millions of people could potentially become victims. We are aware of the burden that having to comply with the act could represent for organizations. However, the potential harm can be so costly that I am convinced the impact and external costs of the government's negligence would ultimately exceed the costs that may be incurred to comply with the bill introduced by the hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.

Again I congratulate my colleague for her initiative. I wish her well and I thank her on behalf of my constituents in Beauport—Limoilou.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2013 / 12:45 p.m.
See context



Bob Dechert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, my colleague made some very interesting points in her speech.

I want to ask whether she is aware that there is a significant difference between Bill C-13 and the previous Bill C-30. For instance, all production orders, all search warrants, for retention of any of this information that would be important for the police and prosecutors in order to properly prosecute a case for cyberbullying, is subject to prior judicial oversight. I wonder if she could tell us whether she knows that or if she has a comment on that.

Also, I wonder if she could take a look at recommendation four of the Cybercrime Working Group report, which she referred to in her speech, and tell us which of those investigative powers she thinks is valid. The Cybercrime Working Group report said that all of those investigative powers were needed in order to support an offence of cyberbullying.

Could she take a look at those to see if she is prepared to accept them as part of the cyberbullying bill, or does she still want those separated into two different bills?

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2013 / 10:05 a.m.
See context


Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-13 today, November 29.

There are various reasons why it is important that we sit here today and discuss Bill C-13. The most important reason is the respect that we all have for the fight against bullying, especially bullying directed at our youth.

No one in the House is against virtue or the idea that we must identify all the means and tools that could be used in the fight against cyberbullying.

I will be using my 20 minutes to talk about cyberbullying specifically. That is what the title of the bill makes us think it is about. However, Bill C-13 unfortunately covers more than just cyberbullying. It talks about numerous other ways and means to address a number of aspects of online crime, in addition to other things that have nothing to do with cyberbullying.

Allow me to explain. If members take the time to really read what is in Bill C-13, they will see that the section on bullying is only two pages long. This bill is more than 50 pages long, and it is clear upon reading it that it is yet another Conservative omnibus bill.

I will not hide my disappointment today at having to rise to speak once again to an omnibus bill. This is unfortunately not the first time one has been introduced in the House. We have had several omnibus bills in the past two parliaments—indeed, since this government won a majority. This is a sorry state of affairs, for many reasons.

The latest budget bills introduced by the Conservatives are examples of such omnibus legislation. We had bills comprising hundreds of pages that affected thousands of our laws totally unrelated to the budget. We had to deal with those. They were shoved down our throats. We tried to divide the bills into different parts, so they could be studied in the appropriate committees, but we did not succeed.

As an example, one of the budget bills contained a measure, introduced by the Conservatives, providing for the removal of protections for lakes and rivers in Canada.

Someone on the other side of the House will have to explain to me how removing the protections for our lakes and rivers relates to the budget. We tried to divide this section of the bill to send it to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, where it should have been studied. Unfortunately, the Conservatives refused.

Every time we have tried to introduce amendments to omnibus bills or divide them by seeking the unanimous consent of the House, the Conservatives have flatly refused.

I am extremely disappointed that Bill C-13 does not go deeper into cyberbullying, which is a sensitive issue that requires so much attention. It does not just affect young people, as we have seen in the high-profile media stories in recent years. Cyberbullying affects a large segment of the population. I will come back to this later in my speech.

It is extremely disappointing to see the Conservatives playing cheap political games in the House with legislation that should be passed unanimously. They are trying to add items and make us say yes to things that are in no way related to cyberbullying. It is incredibly disappointing to see the other side of the House engaging in petty politics.

In Bill C-13, the part on cyberbullying is a pretty close copy of what my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour introduced last June. That was a private member's bill, and everyone agreed with the principle of the bill. However, instead of examining it together and passing it quickly, the Conservatives decided to take part of what my colleague was proposing in Bill C-540 and add it to Bill C-13, along with some other elements.

Instead of concentrating on a bill on cyberbullying that was properly divided, the Conservatives opened up the floodgates and added some other things. They have made Bill C-13 into quite the concoction.

I also wanted to talk about another bill today. A few months ago, my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord moved a very interesting motion on cyberbullying. I cannot elaborate on it too much, because the motion had to do with more than just cyberbullying. However, I know my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord worked very hard on that motion. Almost all experts and public interest groups agreed that it was a very important motion. Unfortunately, the only party that voted against the motion was the Conservative Party. It is so sad that the Conservatives are refusing to discuss the private member's bill introduced by the hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, which focused solely on cyberbullying, and that they so easily dismissed the idea of debating and adopting the motion moved by my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.

Cyberbullying boggles my mind. Honestly, it is so sad. No one can claim they have never encountered bullying. It is impossible. When I was attending Horizon Jeunesse secondary school in Laval, we had pagers. Cellphones did not exist yet. I am lucky because I was never bullied in high school. I was more of a social butterfly. I had all sorts of friends. I was never directly affected by bullying at school. However, I have friends who were bullied at school. It is serious. My brother was bullied. He would often have his lunch stolen. He was embarrassed and did not want to talk about it with my parents. Today, my brother is six feet tall and as strong as an ox, but, unfortunately for him, that was not the case when he was in high school. He was very cute and very nice. Perhaps he was bullied because he was too cute and too nice.

Those were the early days of the Internet. We did not have a computer at home. We had to do our research on the computers at the library. We could not afford a computer. We did not have to deal with cyberbullying, but bullying was all around me and part of my daily life. I saw what an impact bullying could have. Unfortunately, some students who were bullied at Horizon Jeunesse committed suicide.

Bullying at school is one thing, but when we are at home, we are protected. We are in a bubble. However, cyberbullying follows us 24 hours a day. We go home and use social media. Almost everyone has an iPhone or a BlackBerry in their pockets. We have access to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. We can access a host of social media very quickly. The impact is immediate and it follows us day and night. There is no break from it. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a victim of cyberbullying when there is no getting away from it. It is very serious.

My colleague from Gatineau raised an extremely important point this week. She asked for the unanimous consent of the House to split the bill. I think this would be a way to show respect for people who are victims of bullying and cyberbullying. As far as cyberbullying is concerned, the consent is practically unanimous. As parliamentarians, we have to be respectful of the people we represent. We must split the bill. I sincerely believe that all members of the House want what is best.

The best thing to do in this case would be to split the bill, since there is unanimous consent on one part of the bill and because this is an omnibus bill with several parts that have nothing to do with each other. Let us focus on cyberbullying and fix that problem. Let us make sure that the authorities have the tools they need to address this problem. We can then come back to the rest of the bill the government has handed us—a rehash of the former Bill C-30—which addresses the completely different topic of privacy.

Let us focus on the two pages on cyberbullying out of the 50-some pages in Bill C-13. Let us pass these measures so that the authorities can make use of them as quickly as possible. That is how we can combat cyberbullying together.

Before I talk about privacy in more detail, I want to say that Laval does a lot of good things and I like to brag about them. A Laval organization called Volteface has found a unique way to address bullying and especially cyberbullying in Quebec. I cannot speak for the other provinces, regions or territories in Canada, but this is the only program of its kind in Quebec. Volteface is an alternative justice organization that finds ways to help build harmonious relationships by offering preventive activities and alternative conflict resolution mechanisms. It works with teenagers, victims, the general public, parents, schools and the community.

Volteface created an innovative tool as part of its “Ultimatum < Échap > LA CYBER INTIMIDATION” project. The organization is actually based in Shawinigan, but it operates in Laval. It has developed a partnership and focuses on high schools. The guide is intended for high school students, their parents and school staff. It offers information on how to prevent cyberbullying and talks about what kind of action is appropriate. This project focuses especially on youth and has been operating in Laval since Volteface created it. It is a very worthwhile program.

They are targeting young people because a number of studies indicate that, although people of all ages can be affected by cyberbullying, youth 12 to 14 are at greater risk. My daughter is seven months old, and I am already worried about the tween years. I do not know what social media will be like then, but I say to myself every day that time is flying by, and it seems as though she will be 12 or 14 so soon. The research also shows that girls are at greater risk of cyberbullying than boys, as proven by some studies. I can name them: there was Sengupta and Chaudhuri in 2011 and Tokunaga in 2010. Unlike traditional bullying, boys are more likely than girls to be involved in acts of bullying. We have the facts. This is extremely important.

I applaud a Quebec organization that is finding tools to fight cyberbullying and that is trying to engage groups most at risk of being bullied or bullying. We must educate both sides, those who are bullied and those who bully. It is extremely important.

With respect to the protection of privacy, which we have to talk about, this bill deals almost exclusively with that issue. Many experts believe that Bill C-30 is being brought back to Parliament disguised as Bill C-13. I will quickly talk about that.

Bill C-30 contained measures that were considered extremely serious infringements of privacy.

I remember that the public safety minister at the time, Vic Toews, who is no longer in the House, said that if we did not side with him, then we were siding with pedophiles. That was absolutely ridiculous because Bill C-30 was another omnibus bill. Come on. At some point, we must call a spade a spade. We are therefore concerned about the protection of privacy.

Oddly enough, the Privacy Commissioner was not consulted on any of the privacy-related measures contained in Bill C-13. There was no consultation. Moreover, the commissioner is saying that she is very concerned about the measures in Bill C-13.

The commissioner is most concerned about the new powers that will make it possible to obtain information about people's private lives and the high number of government employees who will have access to that information. This is a direct attack on privacy. However, I think we all agree that privacy is a fundamental right.

I would also like to take some time to speak about, a digital media lobby, which:

...welcomed the measures on cyberbullying but expressed concern that the new legislation makes it easier for the government to spy on the activities of law-abiding Canadians. After reviewing the bill, indicated that the bill contains only 2.5 pages about cyberbullying and 65 pages about online spying.

It is unbelievable, particularly since, yesterday, extremely serious allegations were made in the House against the Canadian government. Let me explain.

Yesterday, we learned that, while on Canadian soil, the Americans allegedly spied on all the heads of state who attended the G20 summit in Toronto, with the consent of the Prime Minister and this Conservative government. The Conservatives were therefore aware that this espionage was taking place and they approved of it. However, now they are saying that these are allegations and that they were not aware that this was happening.

Espionage is already being carried out with the Conservative government's approval, and now this bill will give the government even more ways to spy on law-abiding Canadians.

I know that many of my colleagues opposite really like to say that we have to respect Canadians' privacy, and I wholeheartedly agree with that. The right to privacy is a fundamental right.

Why are these measures reappearing in Bill C-13? Why is the government looking to put them back in when every group said that they were a terrible part of Bill C-30?

We also spoke about Bill C-13 yesterday. The Conservatives told us that they deleted the worst parts of Bill C-30 and put the least objectionable parts into Bill C-13. It is frightening to hear such things.

These measures are yet another attack on peoples' privacy. What has the government done? As usual, no one was consulted. The worst part is that the Privacy Commissioner is raising some extremely important points and some were already raised in relation to Bill C-30. The Conservatives wanted to stop talking about it. They said that it was over, that things had gone too far. However, those measures are resurfacing in Bill C-13. I am extremely disappointed.

I do not have much time left, so I will wrap up.

I am disappointed that the government did not decide to split this bill in two and focus specifically on cyberbullying. If the government insists on bringing back measures from Bill C-30, it should create another bill that does not address cyberbullying. Then we would have two separate bills.

The government has come up with another omnibus bill. This demonstrates a lack of respect for victims of cyberbullying.

I believe that our work as parliamentarians is extremely important. The committee study must be non-partisan. I look forward to seeing what will happen when this bill is studied in committee, but I am not overly confident.

I want the government to take the time to think about all those who have been affected by cyberbullying, reverse its decision and split this bill in two.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

November 28th, 2013 / 5:20 p.m.
See context


Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, as usual it is a deep honour to rise in the House on behalf of the constituents in my riding of Davenport in the great city of Toronto on a piece of legislation that strikes to the heart of families right across the country.

As many of my colleagues have already said here today, witnessing the profound courage and commitment of both the Parsons and Todd families through this incredibly difficult chapter in their lives has been something that I think all Canadians have noticed and learned from.

I think when Canadians are faced with something of this magnitude that touches all of us in the way that this does, they rightly expect that we here park some of our partisan instincts and deal with the situation at hand.

One of the ways a majority Parliament can sometimes work is when members on the opposite side and the opposition present bills that really do connect with an important issue right across the country and that pretty much everyone here in this place agrees with. Sure enough, from time to time, the government adopts those ideas. I think it is fair to say that while we work toward being on that side of the aisle and having that party on this side of the aisle, in the meantime, we find ways once in a while to advance issues that we can all agree on, and I think this was one of those issues.

My colleague for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour tabled a piece of legislation in which we sought all-party unanimous consent, but we did not get it. That is one thing, but to have the government come back with a very similar bill is something altogether different. We can support that, but as usual with the Conservative government, it cannot resist its inclination to play politics with every issue. Every issue for the current government becomes a wedge issue and an opportunity to fundraise and hector the opposition.

We saw this with Bill C-30, the widely discredited online spying bill that the government presented. The minister in charge of it at the time badgered the opposition, and in fact, all Canadians who happened to disagree with his perspective and the wide breadth of the bill by saying that if one did not support Bill C-30, one stood with the child pornographers, which was an absolutely outrageous comment and effectively killed the bill.

The government also eventually declared that Bill C-30 was not going to come back. There were too many questions, not the least of which were the outrageous comments from the lead minister. There were also too many questions around privacy and civil liberties. We need to be clear that the foundation of a liberal democracy is the protection of civil liberties.

We see that in the bill we could have just dealt with the cyberbullying. I am sure members opposite on the government side would probably prefer to do that too. Canadians watching this would also be wondering why we do not just do that. The issues of cyberbullying are complex and critical, and they are happening right now as I speak.

This issue is far too important, too pressing, and too complex, quite frankly, to dump it into a boilerplate piece of legislation that contains all sorts of other issues. Maybe the government can explain to Canadians the link between cyberbullying and the inclusion in this law of a two-year sentence for the theft of cable television. That is in the bill.

We are trying to get to the nub of an issue that is affecting many of our young people and many of our families, and for some families it is affecting them in the most tragic of ways.

I am trying to contain my sense of outrage that we even have to discuss pulling this part of the bill out and having it as a stand-alone piece and voting on it immediately. However, the government did have that opportunity when my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour presented his cyberbullying bill in the first place.

When faced with such pressing issues around protecting our young people, it is tempting to consider lowering the bar in our pursuit of protecting people's privacy and protecting civil liberties. It is tempting to do that. I think that one of the reasons the government has thrown in all these other things that it would like to do is that, again, it is trying to play politics with this issue.

However, it is not just the opposition that has serious concerns about some of the other issues that are in the bill. The Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner, Madam Cavoukian, also has serious concerns about this, as she did with Bill C-30. It is the same with Canada's Privacy Commissioner, who had raised serious concerns about Bill C-30 and is going to carefully look at this bill as well.

I would sum up by saying that sometimes it is better for all of us that we park the partisanship in this place and deal with a pressing issue that affects Canadians and some of our more vulnerable young people from coast to coast to coast. By separating this part out of Bill C-13, we would be doing that. We would also be signalling to Canadians that we do take this seriously and that we want to act quickly to protect the young people of this country.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

November 28th, 2013 / 5:15 p.m.
See context


Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Chambly—Borduas for his excellent question.

He knows that, among ourselves, we often compare how we are treated. Experience tells us that people have no trouble accepting young people in politics, but they have some trouble accepting young women in politics.

Indeed, as a young woman who grew up in the digital age, I see something of myself in the stories we watch on television about Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd. I know girls who have gone through similar situations. My colleague from Terrebonne—Blainville said she was bullied when she was younger. I too have been bullied.

This is a crucial issue that we do not talk about enough. Young women seem to be targeted much more often than young men. That said, we must also talk about all forms of bullying.

I find it really unfortunate that the government did not seize the opportunity to focus on prevention and talk about this issue seriously. Instead, it tried to implement measures that were so unpopular they had to be withdrawn. It is truly unfortunate that we cannot address this issue because we are faced with the re-emergence of Bill C-30.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

November 28th, 2013 / 5:15 p.m.
See context


Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. He mentioned an interesting contradiction.

I agree that it does not make sense. I really want to clearly emphasize the fact that the NDP will remain vigilant regarding the inclusion of clauses that might be too similar to those in Bill C-30, which contained measures that went way too far in terms of Canadians' privacy. That is a priority for us. That is a top priority for my colleague from Terrebonne—Blainville, whose constituency is next to mine. I know she has been working very hard on this file. It makes no sense to ask so much of Canadians. The member really illustrated the government's double standard, depending on whether the issue pertains to the government or to Canadians.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

November 28th, 2013 / 5 p.m.
See context


Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to start my remarks on Bill C-13 by congratulating my many colleagues who work tirelessly for justice, the protection of all Canadians and respect for their rights and for individuals. It is truly high time for us to better protect ourselves from the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

We are all shocked and saddened, and were truly heart-broken at the highly publicized suicides of teenagers who were victims of cyberbullying, including Rehtaeh Parsons, in Nova Scotia, Amanda Todd, in British Columbia, and so many others. We must prevent such tragedies from happening again, because these young girls are not the only ones to have been bullied.

Youth between 12 and 14 are most likely to be victims of cyberbullying, which can seriously affect their mental health and well-being.

According to recent studies, cyberbullying has an adverse effect on the social and emotional aspects of a young person's life and on their ability to learn. These young people suffer from anxiety, shorter attention spans, lower marks at school, feelings of despair and isolation, depression and even suicidal tendencies, as in these well-known cases, unfortunately.

I want to acknowledge that my colleague, the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, brought attention to the issue of bullying in the House with his motion to create a national bullying prevention strategy. I want to thank him for taking that initiative. His hard work to fight any form of bullying is truly admirable.

Earlier this year, the NDP member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour introduced a bill to make the non-consensual distribution of sexually explicit images an offence.

Unfortunately, instead of setting partisanship aside and expediting passage of these measures, the Conservatives refused to act on the motion and bill brought forward by my colleagues and waited until it suited them to introduce Bill C-13, a bill that contains a number of provisions that have nothing to do with cyberbullying and provides nothing meaningful for its prevention.

I would like to thank the NDP justice critic, my colleague from Gatineau, for the hard work she has done on this issue. She moved that Bill C-13 be divided in order to remove the parts of the bill that do not pertain to cyberbullying and address them in another debate. She moved for the bill to be split so that the provisions related to the non-consensual distribution of intimate images could be passed quickly since everyone in the House agrees on them. This would have allowed the other provisions, which were previously set out in the now-defunct Bill C-30, to be carefully examined separately in committee.

This would have allowed us to deal with the provisions of the bill that are not related to this very sensitive issue separately. That is what we must do in order to have a healthy debate on this subject, since the Conservatives are trying to include provisions on telemarketing and other things in a bill on cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is a very important issue, and we need to deal with it.

For example, I would like to share with the House what Ann Cavoukian, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, had to say on this subject. She said:

We can all agree that cyberbullying is an issue that needs immediate attention but it is very troubling to see the government once again trying to enact new surveillance powers under the guise of protecting children. Regrettably, the federal government is using this pressing social issue as an opportunity to resurrect much of its former surveillance legislation, Bill C-30.

It is important to remember the work of my colleague, the hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville, who fought hard against Bill C-30, which was a direct attack on the freedoms of Canadians and their right to privacy.

I am certain that she will ensure that the Conservatives are held accountable when the committee examines this bill, which unfortunately contains provisions that have nothing to do with cyberbullying and are of concern to many people in the digital community.

Bill C-13 covers much more ground than Bill C-540, which was introduced by my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. Along the way, it addresses many other issues, such as the financial data of banks, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, telemarketing and the theft of a communication service. It also includes some of the provisions of Bill C-30.

The New Democrats, privacy advocates and the public rejected Bill C-30, forcing the Conservatives to abandon it earlier this year and to promise that the Criminal Code would be modernized and would not include the measures contained in Bill C-30.

Now, privacy advocates are criticizing the provisions in Bill C-13 on lawful access to personal information and stressing the need to implement measures to protect Canadians' right to privacy against abuse. They say that certain specific provisions must be examined more closely, especially clause 20, which deals with the new procedures for obtaining a warrant.

The NDP proposes that the two very different parts of the bill be separated. It is clear that the Conservative government is just playing politics to pass its controversial provisions, under the guise of doing something for our youth. At the very least, we should carefully study this bill in committee, to ensure that it will provide police with the tools they need to protect our youth and to answer important questions about the other provisions included in the bill.

I will take this opportunity to talk about what the youth centre workers in my riding know well. They know this issue very well because they too often come face to face with problems that many people would rather not see. These workers are role models and friends to the young people who so desperately need them. They are on the front lines in their work with young people. I think we have to take their views into consideration. Here is what one worker at the youth centre in Saint-Canut, in my riding, had to say about cyberbullying.

She told me that a number of young people were victims and that very few resources were available to fight against cyberbullying. She finds it hard to control this type of bullying because everything happens so fast on social networks, bullies can remain anonymous and it is everywhere.

At her youth centre there is zero tolerance. If the computers at the youth centre are used inappropriately, there are consequences. She said that it was important for them to make their teenagers aware of the repercussions that this could have and to educate them in order to prevent cyberbullying. This is about confidentiality on the Internet and being careful about the comments and photos we post.

They encourage young people to file a complaint if there are abuses, but often, unfortunately, the police do not have the resources or the time to deal with this type of problem. According to her, it would be better if the complaints were taken seriously and processed as quickly as possible. Young people who commit this type of bullying have to know that there will be consequences for their actions even from behind their computer screen. She thinks it would be important to give police officers what they need to be quick and effective. The sense of anonymity and of not being able to get caught makes young people believe that they can do whatever they want on the Internet. That is what she told me.

Prevention, raising awareness among young people and giving police forces and youth case workers the necessary resources are key to fighting cyberbullying, in addition to the provisions contained in the first part of Bill C-13, the part that truly deals with cyberbullying.

This would help reinforce the legal framework. Nonetheless, it is a national strategy, like the one proposed by my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, which might have an impact on the other aspects.

I gather from this debate and the information from young people and stakeholders in my riding that some of the pages of this bill will help in the fight against cyberbullying. However, prevention and awareness raising are even more pressing.

This bill incorporates a patchwork of measures on telemarketing, theft of telecommunication services, and terrorist activities. These are direct descendants of measures in Bill C-30, the infamous bill the Conservatives had to go back on.

In closing, it is important to move forward in the fight against cyberbullying. As my two colleagues who spoke before me said, the NDP will be very active and very vigilant on this file.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

November 28th, 2013 / 4:40 p.m.
See context


Charmaine Borg Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to clarify one small point. I believe that my colleague was talking about the Privacy Commissioner, not the Information Commissioner. I think that it was important for her to be consulted.

When drafting a bill that has the potential to have very negative implications for Canadians' privacy, it seems logical that the Privacy Commissioner would be consulted. That is what she is there for. She does an excellent job of protecting Canadians' privacy. That should have been part of the government's plan.

I would like to point out that Ontario's Privacy Commissioner has raised concerns about this bill. I would like to quote her as this raises an important point in this debate:

We can all agree that cyberbullying is an issue that needs immediate attention but it is very troubling to see the government once again trying to enact new surveillance powers under the guise of protecting children. Regrettably, the federal government is using this pressing social issue as an opportunity to resurrect much of its former surveillance legislation, Bill C-30.

A number of commissioners have raised concerns about Bill C-30. If my memory serves me well, the government even said that it would consult the commissioner when dealing with this issue. It did not.

In my opinion, this really shows that privacy is clearly not a priority for this government.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

November 27th, 2013 / 4:40 p.m.
See context

Niagara Falls


Rob Nicholson Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly politics as usual for the Liberal Party. I will give the member this: certainly his comments are completely consistent with the Liberal approach over the last seven and a half years, which is to look for anything, any excuse, anything the Liberals can hang their hat on to oppose government legislation that would either crack down on crime or would update the Criminal Code, and in this case, go against cyberbullying. They are always looking for something, and the ironic part about it is the part that this individual is criticizing. He has got it way off base.

In terms of the bill, the old Bill C-30 that he referred to, the provisions that he and others criticized the most are not in the bill. The provisions here need judicial authorization.

I bring the hon. member's attention to one section that was actually passed by a Liberal government. He had a problem with the voluntary production of preservation orders. I would refer him to section 487.014, which says:

For greater certainty, no production order is necessary for a peace officer or a public officer enforcing or administering this or any other ask a person to voluntarily provide to the officer...

We are only adding it to preservation orders. What is this individual's problem? It is already in the Criminal Code.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

November 27th, 2013 / 4:20 p.m.
See context


Sean Casey Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, the events over the past year have impacted all Canadians. The emergence of cyberbullying in society is troubling.

We agree with the government and victims that measures are needed to prevent and address cyberbullying. We, on this side, agree that we need action to properly provide a strong and fair response to those who perpetrate such hurtful acts against others online. It really is a tragedy to hear media reports of young people with their whole lives ahead of them believing that they have no other option than to take their lives. That is how deep and cruel cyberbullying can be. We should tackle this issue in a firm and focused manner.

Just last week, we marked Bullying Awareness Week. Indeed, there was a large summit held in my riding, an international summit, with social media companies and with young people from both sides of the border, which was organized by a well-known expert in this field Parry Aftab. Anti-bullying week and the summit to which I just referred provide us with an opportunity to reflect upon how our words and actions can sometimes have such a devastating impact upon others. This, I submit, holds true, not only for our youth but also the not so young.

As I have said in the House on a number of occasions, bullying is the reality for many people. Words do matter. Often, those words inflict great devastation upon young people. We know that what was once the sole domain of the schoolyard has now moved to the online world. The traditional bully, who typically sought out a victim at school, is now able to extend his reach online. The victim of bullying at school could, at one time, get some relief when he or she would go home, perhaps finding some respite in the confines of his or her room, a place where it was safe and away from the bullies. Not any more. The bullies can now extend that reach into that bedroom, using the Internet as a virtual schoolyard.

We know that some young people say terrible things to each other online. We can only imagine how hurtful it would be to arrive home, perhaps having an already rough day, only to go online and read something about oneself that is likely untrue or perhaps embarrassing. We can only imagine how hurtful and distressing it would be to read an online post or comment calling someone a “fag” or a “dyke” or suggesting that an individual is “weird”, “fat”, “ugly” or any number of hurtful and devastating comments.

We can only imagine how this would pierce the soul of a young person, many of whom are already vulnerable with the all too common challenges of growing up. This is the reality of Canadian youth, day in and day out. This is the ruthless side of technology and the use of the Internet.

That is why we sought to address this issue through legislation last year with a cyberbullying bill from the Liberal member for Vancouver Centre, which I will address again later.

We know that school can be tough, but bullying is not the exclusive domain of young people. I submit to my colleagues that we find bullying here, in this chamber. We often attack one another. We often do so for having a different opinion on such and such a matter. We exaggerate that which is often not worth exaggerating. We do not do a very good job of listening to each other and engaging in real debate. We seem to ignore or exclude the possibility that someone else might have a helpful solution or a proposal worthy of at least a hearing. It is possible to learn from one another.

Instead, as I have experienced in my short time here, having a different opinion is sometimes tantamount to siding with the criminals, and then we use the pretext of democracy to legitimize such behaviour. This is, frankly, the poor example we sometimes give to the public and to young people.

Earlier in my remarks, I indicated that there was an international summit held in Charlottetown on bullying. The organizers of that summit were actually invited into the House of Commons last week on the day of the announcement of this introduction of this legislation. I can say that on that day we did not exactly do our best job. When these constituents, who were here at the invitation of the Prime Minister, had a chance to observe the antics on the floor of the House of Commons, it is safe to say that as advocates against bullying, they were not impressed.

Today we are debating a bill that was supposed to address bullying and the emergence of cyberbullying specifically. However, for some reason, much of this bill has little to do with cyberbullying. I was surprised by this. I actually assumed that the Conservatives would have played this one straight and up front.

Bill C-13, we were told, was to address cyberbullying. It would appear, however, that the Conservative government knowingly used this highly emotional issue as a cover to include legislative measures that have nothing to do with cyberbullying. Conflating, for example, terrorism with cyberbullying does not make any sense. Furthermore, using the scourge of cyberbullying in order to resurrect elements of the infamous Bill C-30, a piece of legislative work wholly rejected because it was in effect an e-snooping bill, is wrong.

Members will remember that bill. It was a bill proposed just last year by Vic Toews, the former Conservative public safety minister. We are also given to understand that the former minister of justice and the current Minister of Justice sought to meet with victims of cyberbullying and their families as they prepared to introduce cyberbully legislation. I commend them for reaching out.

However, much of this bill has little to do with cyberbullying, and that is why we agree with the motion that was put forward by my colleague from Gatineau to split the bill at committee. We do so because all of us on this side had genuinely hoped that it was to be a stand-alone issue; instead, we have a bill before us full of content unrelated to cyberbullying.

We know the minister consulted victims of bullying and their families. I suggest that there will not be one member of the Conservative caucus able to coherently tell Canadians why providing, for example, big telecom companies with immunity to share private information of any Canadian to the government without a warrant has much to do with cyberbullying. There will not be one Conservative MP who could say with any sense of reliability that allowing telecom companies free range to divulge to Canada's security services anything they want at any time without any exposure to civil litigation or criminal charges is in any way tackling cyberbullying. As we heard earlier in the debate, that, in my submission, is the poison pill in this legislation.

The government seems to be using victims of cyberbullying for political and partisan reasons. That is why we agree with the proposal to split this bill at committee and deal with the cyberbullying aspects of it as a stand-alone bill.

When Vic Toews introduced his odious and unconstitutional e-snooping bill last year, a bill that would have allowed widespread government invasion into the privacy of Canadians without a warrant, he did so, to his credit, up front. He did not try to hide it—well, not too much. Faced with fierce opposition to such a massive assault on the privacy of Canadians, he famously said of the member for Lac-Saint-Louis, “He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers.”

At least Vic Toews was up front in his effort to attack the privacy of Canadians.

Again the minister has a bill before the House, the vast majority of which has nothing to do with cyberbullying. I am not sure that I got an answer to my question, but I hope the Minister of Justice will do the right thing and allow the Conservative members of the justice committee the option to split this bill so that we can deal with cyberbullying as a stand-alone bill. Numerous measures from the old Vic Toews' e-snooping bill have no place in this bill.

I know that the minister will resist the temptation to suggest that we are on the side of the bullies when we seek to split the bill to deal with the cyberbullying as a stand-alone bill. To that point, let me be very clear: there is not one person in this House of Commons who does not want to combat cyberbullying.

As mentioned earlier, my colleague from Vancouver Centre, a person of great distinction and someone who has worked with victims of bullying and their families over the years, proposed a bill just last year on the very issue of cyberbullying. When it came time to vote on her bill, the Conservatives voted against it.

Since there was no discernible reason for the Conservatives to vote against her cyberbullying bill, we are left to speculate that they did so because the bill emanated from an opposition party, in this case the Liberal Party of Canada. Now here we are today, dealing with a bill we hoped would not be politicized. Unfortunately, it contains just five pages on cyberbullying, with the remaining 50-plus pages containing unrelated measures.

I earlier commended the minister for reaching out to victims of bullying as he prepared this legislation. As the minister was consulting victims of bullying and their families this summer, I contend that not one of those Canadians would have asked the minister to give telecoms and Internet service providers the right to share online data with Canadians without a warrant and to make it a criminal offence to steal cable signals or WiFi. I would challenge the minister to produce evidence if he could suggest otherwise.

Why, then, did the minister not simply do the right thing and introduce a stand-alone bill that tackled cyberbullying and only cyberbullying? Why did the minister include matters so disconnected to the issue of cyberbullying?

There are measures in the bill that seek to address cyberbullying. That much is not in dispute. As my colleague from Gatineau pointed out, they are in clauses 1 through 7.

The relevant section is the one that deals with the non-consensual exchange of intimate images. It belongs there. It is an issue that needed to be addressed, and we do not take issue with it. In light of the recent tragedies involving cyberbullying, we should support the creation of an offence to deter the non-consensual transfer of intimate images. This new offence would criminalize this kind of malicious photo sharing that specifically contributed to the tragic circumstances in which Rehtaeh Parsons decided to take her own life.

We know that cyberbullying is all too common among children and teenagers. As we proceed with addressing this issue, we must acknowledge that, given the immaturity of children, we should support preventative and restorative measures and not just punitive measures. We do not wish to see the imprisonment of Canadian children and teenagers in large numbers, so while supporting the intention of the creation of this offence, we should be careful to emphasize the importance of including a summary conviction option to allow for sufficient prosecutorial discretion, as is currently the case. I believe and hope the government will be open to that.

We should also assess and be open to addressing cyberbullying through restorative justice and non-legislative methods, and we should do so in conjunction with the provinces.

I mentioned earlier that most of this bill has little to do with cyberbullying. The measures that actually relate to cyberbullying amount to about five pages out of a bill that is more than 50 pages in length.

The government wonders why Canadians do not trust it to be up front and transparent with respect to its real agenda. If those provisions I just outlined had been placed in a separate bill, we could have proceeded. We could have sent a stand-alone bill immediately to the justice committee for review and provided the much-needed opportunity for victims to lend voice to the merits of such a bill. We could have then agreed to pass the bill at all remaining stages, and I would suggest that we could have it passed by Christmas.

Instead we have a government bill that reintroduces odious and unconstitutional measures that Canadians rejected last year. Here are just some of the measures currently in the bill that have absolutely nothing to do with cyberbullying. These measures are recycled from the bill put forward by the former minister of public safety, Vic Toews. We were told this would not happen again in light of the reaction of Canadians. The former justice minister, now occupying the national defence portfolio, said:

We will not be proceeding with Bill C-30 and any attempts that we will continue to have to modernize the Criminal Code will not contain the measures contained in C-30.

The new bill proposed today contradicts that promise in 37 of the 47 clauses contained in the bill. That is why we wish to have the bill separated and to place those provisions related to cyberbullying in a stand-alone bill.

Let me outline the elements contained in the old Vic Toews bill that we were promised would never rear its head again. These measures are now in the bill before us.

They include updates to technology-related offences such as theft of telecom signals and unauthorized use of computers, which has nothing to do with cyberbullying; the power to make preservation demands and orders to compel the preservation of electronic evidence, which has nothing to do with cyberbullying; new production orders to compel the production of data relating to the transmission of communications and the location of transactions, individuals, or things, which has nothing to do with cyberbullying; a warrant that will extend the current investigative power for data associated with telephones to all means of communication, which has nothing to do with cyberbullying; warrants that will enable the tracking of transactions, individuals, and things that are subject to legal thresholds appropriate to the interests at stake, including time extensions for warrants relating to organized crime and terrorism, which has nothing to do with cyberbullying; a so-called streamlined process of obtaining warrants and orders related to authorizations to intercept private communications, which has nothing to do with cyberbullying.

We reject using victims of bullying as a way to bring back the ghost of Vic Toews and his e-snooping bill. This was supposed to be a good day for young people and others who have been the subject of bullying online. This was supposed to be a day when this whole House, all of us, could stand in solidarity with victims of cyberbullying and support legislation that would help address its prevalence in Canada. Instead, we have politics as usual.

It is unfortunate that members who have a sincere interest and desire to address cyberbullying are being used as cover for the introduction of multiple items that have little or nothing to do with cyberbullying. The bill capitalizes on the tragic passing of teens victimized by cyberbullying to reinstate elements of legislation the government had previously withdrawn and had sworn not to reintroduce.

The current bill deprives members of a chance to stand in solidarity in addressing one of the problems affecting Canada's young people, namely cyberbullying, as a distinct and stand-alone bill. It includes provisions unrelated to cyberbullying that may infringe on civil liberties. It raises privacy concerns that ought to be referred to the Privacy Commissioner and legal experts, or perhaps be dealt with at committee prior to deliberation and debate in the House. The bill encourages telecommunications companies and Internet service providers to co-operate with the government in surveillance matters in a way that Canadians would find objectionable.

That is why we wish to have the bill split at the justice committee so that those measures, and those measures alone, that seek to address cyberbullying could be captured in their own legislation, free from the politics and division that this issue should avoid.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

November 27th, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.
See context


Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the Minister of Justice is reaching out. I see that one of his parliamentary secretaries is in the House. I am sure he heard the same words I did.

It is imperative that we take the time to really look at each and every one of these clauses.

There was no contradiction there. We said that the difference between 7 clauses and 47 was that it would take far less time to study the first seven clauses. That way, we could address the parents' need to see this issue debated.

Now the process will take longer. The government decided to incorporate elements that—while not necessarily the same as those that were in Bill C-30—are quite worrisome to groups other than victims of cyberbullying or parents of those who have committed suicide after being bullied online.

If there is unlimited time for hearing from various experts, then it is possible to split this into two. I hope that this will not be forgotten. I will take his words to committee with me, that is for sure.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

November 27th, 2013 / 3:50 p.m.
See context


Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I certainly support legislation to stop cyberbullying, and I think many of the provisions on cyberbullying in this bill are good and necessary.

However, like the member for Charlottetown, I am worried about whether the government is using this issue as a Trojan horse to increase our risk of being a surveillance state. I and many others feel that the government is trying to bring back Bill C-30.

My question is this. Yesterday, the United Nations human rights committee unanimously passed a resolution to protect individuals from unlawful surveillance. It happened to be a resolution on which the government worked with the U.S. to water down.

Does the member not think that, just as victims of cyberbullying deserve protection, people's privacy rights also deserve protection?

October 24th, 2013 / 12:40 p.m.
See context


Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON


Thank you for that question. I think it's an important one. My point on this is that what sparked this reaction were the deliberations under Bill C-60, Bill C-45, and...what was the first one? Bill C-30, was it?

Combating Counterfeit Products Act
Government Orders

June 12th, 2013 / 11:40 p.m.
See context


Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the enthusiasm is overwhelming. I am moved. Especially considering that we are coming to the midnight hour, the enthusiasm New Democrats have for the House of Commons, for democracy and even for debate is stirring and important, because there has been a certain lack of enthusiasm for debate coming from the Conservatives.

The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons will know the actual number. I think we are at 47 or so time allocation motions. On all of these bills, and this is one of those bills, we seek to find some comfort for the Conservatives, who are often looking for comfort, particularly when there is a lot of turmoil in their lives, much of it self-inflicted. They want these kinds of things to move at an orderly pace. We offer them an orderly calendar. A certain number of New Democrats will speak and allow the bill to go ahead, and they still shut down debate, even under those circumstances. One wonders what the motivation is sometimes. I think we are up to 47. Again, if the government House leader rises tonight, he will be able to remind us.

This bill is an important one. The Conservatives say that it is critically important. How critical it is in their minds begs the question, simply because it was first introduced on March 1 of this year, seven or eight years into their mandate and 27 years after the last time the bill was reviewed. My friend from the Conservatives earlier talked with some great expertise about the importance of this thing. If it were important, one would think it would be a priority, and if it were a priority, one would not think that the 11th hour of this particular sitting and session of the House of Commons would be the time they would move the bill. If this were devastating to the Canadian economy, to the intellectual property rights regime in Canada, our ability to trade with other nations and all of these things that have been talked about, it would be a priority, but it is not a priority. It is a panic. When things are panicked, mistakes are made.

It is important for my friends to realize that they cannot quite have it both ways. If they say that this is urgent and desperate and we need to move it through rapidly, then one says that there has been a majority government for two years. Other bills have been moved, some of certainly less consequence or even quality, some would argue. I am thinking of a few bills, such as Bill C-30. My friends will remember Bill C-30, the Internet snooping bill, which the Minister of Public Safety so eloquently justified by saying to the opposition and to all Canadians that one was either with the Conservatives or was with the child pornographers. Do members remember that classic? That was a good one. They got rid of that bill. It was a bigger priority than this piece of legislation.

However, let us talk about the bill, because it is important. We will take a look at Bill C-56 and see what it actually would do.

New Democrats have been aware of the importance of protecting intellectual property rights in Canada. It is important both for our own industry and our ability to innovate and design leading-edge technology, as Canada has so often done in the past, particularly when we used to have things like industrial development strategies, but not so much with these guys. We had export policies that said that adding value to our resources in Canada was a priority for the federal and provincial governments, but not so much with that side.

We agree with the merits of this bill and agree with sending it to committee. We believe that we need to hear from the experts. We have one or two experts in the House of Commons who maybe spent a previous life looking at the intellectual property regime in Canada and around the world. I do not claim that expertise, and I think most members of Parliament would not either. We need to rely on the experts, and not just the industry experts, and this is important for us as New Democrats. While those voices are critical to the design and implementation of legislation, we need to hear from the border guards, who are the folks who are going to be potentially seizing some of these products. We will have a very challenging time distinguishing between the bootlegged products people have talked about and other products that would offer serious harm or threats to Canadians' safety and health.

My friend talked about toothbrushes and toothpaste that caused people harm, but it gets even more serious than that. There is medical equipment that is improperly made. It is counterfeit, and Canadians are exposed to this, because they trust the label on the brand. It is not about buying a sweater for a child and hoping that it is the actual brand. Some of these things are quite important. When buying brake pads for one's car, one wants to ensure that they are actually brake pads that will stop the car.

The problem with counterfeit is that it can so often appear as something that is solid and consistent and legitimate. The reason it is so effective is that it looks good.

We have been having a bit of a debate. I do not want to say that it has been a nerd fight, but we have been arguing about the numbers. The numbers do not really help out the government's case in terms of providing help for the border officials who are meant to guard our borders, not just from counterfeit products, which is important, but even more important, from illegal contraband and weapons. They come into this country, some would argue, through our ports, where 2% to 3% of all containers are inspected. That is not a lot, and with those types of odds, some smugglers will just take the chance of getting caught, because the ability to make money is so great.

We have heard from the CBSA itself in this year's report. This is not a report produced by the official opposition. This report is produced by the border agency. We have heard that the government has cut $145 million from the border agency this year. Excuse me, I want to get the number right. It is $143 million. I exaggerated. It is not $145 million but $143 million. I want to make sure the number is right. I do not want to upset anyone on the other side.

The CBSA's report on plans and priorities indicates a loss, not a gain of 1,000 and a loss. It indicates a net loss of 549 full-time-equivalent positions. If the CBSA is not telling the truth or has its numbers wrong, I would encourage those on the government side to help it out a little. The Conservatives are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. The facts of the matter are that there are 549 fewer full-time-equivalent positions. If we are going to ask them to do more with fewer staff, is the law worth the paper it is written on?

We need two things, of course. We need the tools. This is an update of the legislation, and New Democrats support the updated legislation. Things have changed since the last time we looked at these intellectual property regimes that are so important for businesses that are looking to innovate and trade. If we do not look at legislation often, we want to get it right. To the Conservatives who say that one hour of debate is good enough, that we can zip it through committee and get it back out the door and then wait 30 years to correct the errors we make, I say that it is not right.

Nearly 100% of the amendments the opposition moved were based on testimony from experts, from border officials, from those in industry and those who deal with intellectual property. We hope that there is some sort of new openness, because the Conservatives have rejected virtually everything we have offered before, because they can, not because they have any counter-argument.

I have been at the committee hearings where we quote witnesses everybody agreed with when they testified. We move the change the witness suggested. There is no debate or counter-argument from the Conservatives. There is a vote, they kill it and they move on. We just do it over and over again.

A number of pieces of legislation have moved through the House completely unamended. Some of these bills are hundreds of pages in length. They are technical bills amending other acts. Sometimes as many as 60 other acts of Parliament are amended by one bill. The government does not change anything based on the testimony it hears. The testimony we hear, in very specific and technical ways, offers another viewpoint.

It raises the question of what is going on. Why would a government claim to have a keen interest in helping manufacturers and innovators in this country protect their intellectual property and a keen interest in helping consumers, yet not allow border officials to have the tools and services they need?

If we hear from border officials that we should change something in the legislation and New Democrats happen to be the party offering the amendment to the bill, for goodness sake, I hope the Conservatives change some of their patterns and hubris and say that it does not matter which political party moves it. What matters is whether it is a good amendment and whether it is a good improvement. Going through hundreds of pages of laws without any changes smacks of a certain unfortunate level of arrogance.

On this legislation, let us make sure that the tools we are offering our border officials also match up with the planning priorities—not the stated planning priorities of the government, not the stated spending priorities, but the real priorities, with real money and training.

We have talked about giving border security officers new powers to play a discerning and defining role in investigating the products to make sure that they are contraband, or not. That requires new training. We all admit it, but we do not see in any spending priorities from the government actual resources for training. CBSA has to take it from something else.

To the government, to all members of the House, let us do what the House of Commons is built to do: study legislation, look at it, take our time and get it right. If we are only going to do this once every generation, and if it is so important for our industry, then let us make sure we get it right.

Second Reading
Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act
Government Orders

May 27th, 2013 / 6:20 p.m.
See context

New Brunswick


Robert Goguen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the second reading debate on Bill C-54, the not criminally responsible reform act. This is a legal policy issue that has preoccupied many Canadians, not only today but over the years.

Recent high profile cases in many parts of Canada have caused Canadians to question whether our laws in this area are strong enough or clear enough to ensure that the public is adequately protected when a risk to public safety exists.

In my remarks, I plan to outline the key milestones of Parliaments consideration of this issue. It is important to canvass the legislative history of the Criminal Code mental disorder regime in order to put today's debate into context, essentially to have a clear understanding of how Bill C-54 seeks to build on and improve the existing law.

What used to be referred to as the “insanity defence” was included in Canada's first Criminal Code, which was enacted in 1892. Even before then the defence existed at common law. It stemmed from a decision rendered in 1843 from the British House of Lords. The common law principle was known as the M'Naghten Rules, which stated:

—every man is to be presumed to be sane, and to possess a sufficient degree of reason to be responsible for his crimes, until the contrary be proved to their satisfaction; and that to establish a defence on the ground of insanity, it must be clearly proved that, at the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was labouring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or, if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong.

The text of the first Criminal Code stated:

No person shall be convicted of an offence by reason of an act done or omitted by him when labouring under natural imbecility, or disease of the mind, to such an extent as to render him incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act or omission, and of knowing that such act or omission was wrong.

This legislation continued to apply relatively unchanged and without much public debate for the first half of the 20th century.

In 1977, the Law Reform Commission of Canada produced a report to Parliament on mental disorder in the criminal process, which made 44 recommendations about procedures and dispositions for the mentally disordered offender. In order to consider and respond to the recommendations, the Department of Justice launched the mental disorder project in 1978. The review process led to the release of a discussion paper in 1983, exploring over 100 issues in the area of psychiatric remand, fitness to stand trial, the defence of insanity and criminal responsibility, just to name a few. A final report was produced in 1985, followed shortly thereafter by a draft bill that was introduced in the House of Commons by the then minister of justice John Crosbie.

The proposed amendments to the Criminal Code and the draft bill were the first formulation of what would eventually become the new Criminal Code mental disorder regime.

The proposed amendments sought to modernize and clarify the criminal law on mental disorder, strengthen due process and ensure the continued protection of the public. It proposed to change the law in a number of respects.

Under the law at the time, insane or unfit accused were held in strict custody under the pleasure of the lieutenant-governor of the province was known. There was not a requirement to hold a hearing and the lieutenant-governor's decisions, essentially the provincial cabinets, were not subject to appeal. Therefore, there were many gaps with respect to due process that needed to be remedied.

In 1986, the draft bill proposed to remove the role of lieutenant-governors in the process and to establish review boards in all jurisdictions, with uniform procedures to follow across the country. Another significant change in the draft bill was to replace the defence of insanity with the verdict of “not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder”. I will have more to say about that amendment in a moment.

Discussions and consultations with the provinces and territories on the draft bill and other intervening events resulted in the bill not being introduced until 1991 as Bill C-30. It proposed much of what was contained in the 1986 draft bill.

With respect to the previous defence of “not guilty by reason of insanity”, it is noteworthy to highlight the remarks of Kim Campbell, the then minister of justice, about that amendment. She said that a number of psychiatrists had indicated that persons found not guilty by reason of insanity deluded themselves into thinking that they had done nothing wrong and this presented an obstacle to therapy. She also explained that the previous wording was difficult for the public to understand how the accused could be found not guilty despite proof that he committed the offence. The “not guilty by reason of insanity” defence was therefore replaced with a verdict of “not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder”.

However, I think it fair to say that the public still has difficulty understanding a “not criminally responsible” verdict. I believe it is part of our job as parliamentarians to talk about the verdict and to help explain it to the public. Therefore, I would like to reiterate that the verdict of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder is not an acquittal; nor is it a conviction; it is a special verdict that the court makes when it has been established that a person committed an act or made an omission that constitutes a criminal offence. What has also to be established as a legal issue for the court to determine is whether the person suffered from a mental disorder at the time of the commission of the act, or the omission, that rendered the person incapable of appreciating what he or she did or of knowing that it was wrong.

When the court enters a verdict of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder, it does not release the accused. The accused is referred to a provincial or territorial review board that is responsible for making orders to govern how the accused will be dealt with.

Bill C-30 introduced three possible orders that could be put into place, depending on the level of risk posed by the person. Only if the person did not pose a significant threat to the public safety would the person be discharged without conditions. If the person posed a significant threat to the safety of the public, the person would be kept in custody in a hospital or discharged with conditions. The choice between custody or a conditional discharge is determined in accordance with the level of risk posed to the public safety.

Bill C-30 also introduced the factors that must be taken into consideration in deciding which order should be put in place. The section provides that the court or review board shall take into consideration the need to protect the public from dangerous persons, the mental condition of the accused, the reintegration of the accused into society and the other needs of the accused. This is a key provision of the Criminal Code mental disorder regime, as it guides the courts and review boards in their decision-making. It was introduced in 1991 by Bill C-30 to provide criteria and factors that did not previously exist in the legislation.

As I mentioned in the beginning of my remarks, I want to take some time to canvass the legislative history of the Criminal Code mental disorder regime in order to put Bill C-54 in context and to better understand how it seeks to build on and improve the existing law.

With respect to this key decision-making process, Bill C-54 proposes to clarify that among the existing listed factors that the courts and review boards must consider when they make decisions with respect to the mentally disordered accused, public safety is the paramount consideration.

In clause 9, it says:

When a court or Review Board makes a disposition... it shall, taking into account the safety of the public, which is the paramount consideration, the mental condition of the accused, the reintegration of the accused into society and the other needs of the accused, make...[the disposition] that is necessary and appropriate in the circumstances....

Bill C-54 would also clarify what is meant by the phrase “significant threat to the safety of the public”. In 1999, the case of Winko v. British Columbia (Forensic Psychiatric Institute), the Supreme Court of Canada interpreted that phrase to mean a risk of serious physical or psychological harm to members of the public resulting from conduct that is criminal in nature but not necessarily violent. Bill C-54 would codify the Supreme Court's interpretation.

The mental disorder regime that was introduced in 1992 included new rules and procedures with respect to appeals. I mentioned earlier that the previous law did not provide either party with a right of appeal of a lieutenant-governor's decision. Last year, the Court of Appeal for Ontario identified a problem with one of the appeal provisions in this part of the code. The Criminal Code currently states that when an absolute discharge is appealed, the absolute discharge is automatically suspended. In R. v. Kobzar, the Court of Appeal for Ontario found this automatic suspension to be in violation of sections 7 and 9 of the Charter, but suspended its order to allow Parliament to pass an amendment to correct the defect. The proposed reforms would eliminate the automatic suspension of the absolute discharge and instead would grant the Court of Appeal the discretionary power to suspend the absolute discharge if the mental condition of the accused justifies it.

I support the effort to clarify this area of the criminal law. The reform seeks to improve the existing legislative framework that guides decision-making when courts and review boards hear matters involving mentally disordered accused persons. Bill C-54 would help ensure more consistent interpretation and application of the law across the country. That is a valuable goal.

In my view, the proposed reforms are reasonable measures to take into consideration the protection of the public and to ensure confidence in our justice system. Mentally disordered accused will continue to receive treatment and have their cases overseen by the courts and review boards.

I encourage all members to support passage at second reading of Bill C-54. This would mean that it would be referred to committee for further study.