Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act

Sponsor

Peter MacKay  Conservative

Status

Report stage (House), as of June 13, 2014

Subscribe to a feed of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-13.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to provide, most notably, for

(a) a new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images as well as complementary amendments to authorize the removal of such images from the Internet and the recovery of expenses incurred to obtain the removal of such images, the forfeiture of property used in the commission of the offence, a recognizance order to be issued to prevent the distribution of such images and the restriction of the use of a computer or the Internet by a convicted offender;

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

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

(d) a warrant that will extend the current investigative power for data associated with telephones to transmission data relating to all means of telecommunications;

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

(f) a streamlined process of obtaining warrants and orders related to an authorization to intercept private communications by ensuring that those warrants and orders can be issued by a judge who issues the authorization and by specifying that all documents relating to a request for a related warrant or order are automatically subject to the same rules respecting confidentiality as the request for authorization.

The enactment amends the Canada Evidence Act to ensure that the spouse is a competent and compellable witness for the prosecution with respect to the new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

It 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.

Elsewhere

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

Votes

  • March 26, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, not more than one further sitting day after the day on which this Order is adopted shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and that, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

April 28th, 2014 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak about Bill C-13, the protecting Canadians from online crime act, which would update the Criminal Code to respond to the pernicious issue of cyberbullying. Bill C-13 achieves this goal by proposing new criminal offences of distribution of intimate images without the consent of the persons depicted.

Further, to ensure that police are properly equipped to investigate and enforce the proposed new offences and other criminal offences that involve the use of the Internet or that leave behind electronic evidence, the bill also proposes to modernize the Criminal Code's investigative tools. Similar modernization updates are being done to the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act and the Competition Act to ensure that they remain responsive and relevant to the requirements of modern technology.

The bill has received considerable attention in the media, including for the proposed amendments to the investigative tools. I would like to focus my remarks on those elements of Bill C-13 that deal with the investigative tools amendments.

It is not uncommon to hear people talking about how technology has changed their lives. The Internet allows us to book airline tickets from the comfort of our homes, at any time of day or night. GPS systems allow us to get from Montreal to Saskatoon without a road map and without stopping to ask for directions. It has also changed the way that we communicate with each other. Mobile phones keep us connected to each other no matter where we are, and text messaging has made communications so fast and cheap that it is easy to stay in touch with people halfway around the world.

Canadians are world leaders when it comes to using the Internet. In 2012, 83% of Canadians over the age of 16 used the Internet in their personal lives, and that number continues to rise. The possibilities and opportunities that these technologies open up for us are nothing short of incredible. However, just as these technologies can be used to bring people together, they can be used for nefarious ends. Technology can facilitate a wide range of criminal behaviour, including the sexual exploitation of children, identity fraud and, as we have seen most recently, serious forms of cyberbullying.

Technology has also introduced us to new crimes that simply did not exist before there were computers. Crimes like computer hacking and denial of service attacks have been added to the criminal justice lexicon.

Technology has changed the types of evidence that are left behind after a crime has been committed. Previously, a telephone number may have revealed the identity of a suspect; this information may now be found in the transmission data of an email. Conspiracies can be created in online chat rooms, and people even speak of electronic fingerprints.

It is time to update the offences in the Criminal Code to reflect these new ways of committing old crimes, as is the case when we think about bullying versus cyberbullying. The amendments in Bill C-13 would update the investigative powers in the Criminal Code and the Competition Act to ensure that investigators have the tools they need to deal with the evidence in this new technological environment.

Some of the proposed Criminal Code modernization amendments found in Bill C-13 would update existing offences, while some of them would update existing investigative tools or create new ones.

With regard to the existing Criminal Code offences, Bill C-13 proposes to update the crimes of conveying false information, indecent communications, and harassing telephone calls found in section 372. Currently these three offences contain language related to outdated technologies, such as the telephone and telegraph. With the proposed amendments, these same acts would be punishable when committed using email, text messaging, or any means of telecommunications.

As much of the prohibited conduct in section 372 is currently relevant to traditional bullying, for example, repeated and harassing phone calls, the proposed amendments would ensure that these offences are also responsive to cyberbullying.

Further, the bill proposes minor updates to other Criminal Code offences. The amendments are part of the government's efforts to modernize the Criminal Code as it relates to new technologies. For example, amendments to the offence of possession of a device to obtain telecommunications services are also being made to another possession offence in the Criminal Code in relation to the possession of computer hacking tools. These amendments make the two similar provisions consistent with each other and, in an effort to increase transparency, update them to reflect the current jurisprudence in the areas that hold that a device includes a computer program.

On this particular issue, it has been very wrongly reported in the media that Bill C-13 proposes to criminalize the theft of cable signals. In fact, the theft of cable signals has been in the Criminal Code since 1960.

As to Bill C-13's proposed modernization of investigative tools, these amendments are designed to target electronic devices and tailored to ensure minimal intrusion on privacy and civil liberties.

There has been some confusion about some of the investigative tools included in the bill. I hope to dispel some of these myths today as I explain the rationale and the reasoning behind these necessary changes to the criminal law.

First, the bill proposes two new tools aimed at preserving volatile electronic evidence. They are called preservation demand and preservation orders. I would like to emphasize that preservation should not be confused with data retention schemes.

Nothing in this legislation would require Internet service providers to collect everyone's information and keep it on hand indefinitely. A preservation demand or order would require a person or a business that is not the target of the investigation to preserve a prescribed set of computer data, for example, an intimate image found on a website. The data could be preserved only for a limited amount of time in association with a specific investigation.

A good way to think of this particular tool is as a “do not delete” order; it simply asks the person to preserve or save the information already in his or her possession for a limited period of time. This tool is essential to enable the police to conduct effective investigations in the area where crucial evidence can be deleted with a simple keystroke.

The preservation demand or preservation order would provide the police with enough time to go to a judge and get the warrants or orders needed to obtain the highly volatile evidence. The police can do this without fear that the data they need will be lost or deleted, either intentionally or inadvertently as a matter of regular business practices, during the period that it takes to obtain a warrant or production order for that data.

The duration of the preservation order would be limited to 21 days for domestic investigations and 90 days for international ones. This means that if a police officer does not get the court order or a warrant obtained for the preserved data before the demand expires, that data would not be retained in the ordinary course of business and would be destroyed. The data would not be provided to the police without a court order or warrant.

If the duration of the preservation order needs to be extended, the police would have to return to a judge or justice to obtain a preservation order. The police would then be given up to 90 days to get the production order or a warrant to obtain the data that has been preserved. If the police do not get the production order or the warrant by the time the preservation order expires, the person in possession of the preserved data is required to destroy it, unless his or her business practices otherwise require that it be retained. This means that only specific computer data would be preserved under this scheme for a limited period of time and only for the purpose of an investigation.

An even more fundamental privacy safeguard of the scheme is that the computer data that would not otherwise be kept by a business would be destroyed as soon as it is no longer needed for an investigation.

These safeguards exemplify our efforts to respect privacy throughout the bill, and to respect privacy under Canadian law.

In addition to the preservation scheme, the bill proposes to update the existing production order regime. A production order is a judicial order that requires third parties, such as a bank, to provide the police with documents containing data in connection with an investigation. This is in contrast to a search warrant that would also be issued judicially but would allow the police to search for the material themselves.

There are currently two types of production orders in the Criminal Code. These are production orders for a very particular type of basic financial information, such as the status and type of bank account, as well as the more general production order for any type of data that might be needed to conduct an investigation.

Often the requirements of an investigation are quite targeted, and general production orders could provide the police with a lot more information than they require in certain circumstances. In those cases, it makes sense to have specific tools, such as a financial data production order, that would allow the police to obtain the specific data they are looking for and that are designed to reflect the expected privacy associated with that particular type of data.

One way of thinking about this kind of tailoring is as privacy with precision. Instead of using one big tool for every problem, we would be providing several tools that are more precisely suited to specific types of problems.

The bill proposes to retain two existing categories of production orders already found in the existing Criminal Code. In addition, it is proposing three more to deal with specific types of data associated with modern technology.

In particular, Bill C-13 proposes to create production orders for historic tracking data, which would permit police to determine, for example, the pattern of bank card usage for a period of time; historic data related to the routing of telecommunications, such as the time an email was sent, and to which address, which would be known as transmission data; and historic data designed to trace specific communications.

The last type of production order would be a very important tool to address the complexities of modern communication, as it would allow the police to trace the origin of communications that may have gone through several different service providers before it reached its destination.

Other changes that are being proposed in Bill C-13 would impact the existing tracking warrant provisions. This is different from the production order for tracking data which provides information about past movements.

Police have been able to get judicially authorization tracking warrants for over 20 years, which permit them to track the whereabouts of a person in real time. As one can imagine, technology has changed a lot in that time. Where police were once able to track people with limited accuracy, there are now technologies that can track objects much more precisely and closely.

Bill C-13 proposes to split the existing tracking warrant provisions into two types of warrants: one for tracking people, and one for tracking the location of a transaction or the movement of such things as a car.

The warrant for tracking things would continue to be available on the standard of reasonable grounds to suspect, like the existing tracking warrant provision. However, this legislation proposes to increase the threshold necessary to get a tracking warrant in the situation where people would be tracked. This would mean that when police officers apply to the judge or justice for a warrant to do this more continuous and accurate type of tracking, the officer would have to meet a higher test to convince the judge that the tracking warrant is needed.

This is a dual approach, which would allow the police to retain the efficiency of the lower threshold warrant while increasing the privacy protections in situations where the greater privacy interests are at play.

Another warrant provision which Bill C-13 is proposing to update is currently known as the number recorder warrant. This permits the police to monitor the phone numbers dialed from a particular telephone and the numbers which call a particular telephone.

Although it is true that some of us still use traditional telephones to communicate, few old-fashioned dialing mechanisms are still in use. An increasing number of Canadians are using smart phones, text messaging, email, and other high-tech methods to communicate. Police need to be able to capture the routing information that these new technologies produce, the same way that we can currently capture the phone numbers under existing warrants. The proposed transmission data recorder warrant and the new production order for transmission data would allow police to do just that.

Where police could previously only get the phone number of someone who was dialing, they would now be able to get parallel updated forms of communication destination information like email addresses as well. This would provide for much-needed modernization in this area, since technology has moved well beyond telephone dialing.

I think it is important to emphasize that this warrant would retain the Criminal Code's existing privacy protections. Neither the warrant nor the production order would allow police to obtain the content of people's emails, text messages, or phone calls. They would not even get the subject line of emails using this warrant. In essence, Bill C-13 would permit police to get information about where a communication is coming from or where it is going to. That is the only kind of information they are going to get with this warrant and production order.

Besides these new and improved investigative tools, Bill C-13 also proposes to clarify and safeguard the common law powers of police. Section 487.014 would be amended to remove the requirement for police to be administering or enforcing an act of Parliament before they can ask for information. The current wording has been creating problems for the police in performing everyday duties, such as getting information for the purpose of notifying a next of kin.

There has been some concern about this amendment removing the limits on what police can ask of persons who voluntarily provide information. Let me be clear. The common law powers of the police are rooted in legitimate police business, which is one limit. Further, the existing restrictions on the provider of the information would remain. They can only provide information that they are not otherwise prohibited by law from disclosing. Indeed, providers of information will be governed by federal or provincial privacy legislation that will restrict the disclosure of personal information. To be clear, the primary purpose of this provision is to ensure that police do not need a production order every time they want to ask a question.

These amendments are the result of extensive consultations, both on the elements relating to the proposed new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images and on the modernization of investigative tools.

The proposals in Bill C-13 were recommended in recent federal, provincial, territorial reports on the issue on cyberbullying and non-consensual distribution of intimate images, which was released in July 2013 and supported by the federal, provincial, territorial ministers in November 2013.

The report strongly recommends both the proposed new offences and the reintroduction of the elements related to the modernization of investigative tools. The report also recommends that the enactment of new offences be supported by updated investigative tools.

Bill C-13 would provide police with a set of tools which would allow them to be effective and efficient in conducting a complex investigation in the modern world. This would apply to serious forms of cyberbullying, including the proposed new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images as well, or other offences that occurred in cases of cyberbullying, such as criminal harassment or extortion.

Our government is committed to combatting cybercrime in all forms. This bill is a necessary addition to the legislative tool kit.

When we look at the legislation, it is important that we really highlight the fact of what is going on. The reality is technology has changed, the environment in which our police services work in has changed, and they need modernization of the tools so they can go about doing the job they have been asked to do for many years.

We need to ensure they have access to the tools and the information, so we can still protect our families and our loved ones when they are victims of cyberbullying or cyber crime. When we see situations where someone is trying to entice someone to do something wrong, or when we see situations where people are being bullied or harassed, we will have the tools to prevent that from leading to something more serious.

It is important that we see proper legislation move forward. It is very important that we balance the privacy rights of the individuals with the rights of the police and the rights of the victim. The way this legislation is drafted, we have done just that. We will allow the data to be retained, but at the same time the police officers involved will have to receive the warrant before they can use the data. That is relevant and it makes a lot of common sense. I think a lot of Canadians would understand that.

I just hope that all members appreciate the importance of this bill. It is very important that we modernize our laws and our abilities to take advantage of new technologies as they become available, and to take on new criminal activities that are using the new technologies, ensuring we have the tools for our police officers to ensure these new technologies are not abused but are used for what they were originally intended, for public good.

I hope all members of the House will support the need for modern tools for modern times. Bill C-13 would provide just that. I look forward to questions.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

April 28th, 2014 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Dany Morin Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP will be voting in favour of this bill, because it is very similar to the bill introduced by my colleague from Nova Scotia. However, I find the lack of prevention included in the bill really unfortunate.

I understand that the government wanted to focus on criminalization, but could the bill not have been improved by placing greater emphasis on prevention, as well as criminalization?

The House of Commons wants to protect as many young people as possible from the scourge of bullying, and right now, I do not see much in the way of prevention in this bill.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

April 28th, 2014 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, the member brings up a good point. The bill is one part of the equation. I am sure the Minister of Justice and others would agree with this, but I do not want to speak on their behalf.

If we look at this, it is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to cyberbullying. Education as well as the exact things the member is looking for are very important things that we should be considering as we debate the bill through committee.

The reality is we need to ensure we put the tools in place for the police forces so they have the ability to take on these criminals. That does not mean this is the end all and be all. This does not solve what we are looking at; it is part of the puzzle to solve the equation.

Education and other factors need to be looked at. We have to ensure that our kids are kept safe. Not only that, we have to ensure that our kids understand the consequences of their actions when they send text messages or images. They need to understand there are consequences, and that they could be hurting someone when they make that anonymous note in an email, text or tweet. Their actions will have consequences and will impact someone's life. Just because we are not looking at them, we should not think it is not happening.

It is very important that this be a part of many things to tackle cyberbullying.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

April 28th, 2014 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for outlining some of the effects of Bill C-13 and how it would help to modernize the tools available to our police forces to investigate, to actually reflect the fact that there are many changes in modern technology.

A number of years ago I introduced a private member's motion in the House, Motion No. 388, which sought to clarify an offence in the Criminal Code of encouraging someone to die by suicide. While it currently is an offence in the Criminal Code, it was not clear in the code as to whether that included telecommunications and Internet technology. Motion No. 388, which passed unanimously in the House, called on government to implement some of those changes.

I was pleased to note that in the comments made by my colleague and also some comments I was able to read that the bill would actually give police better tools to track and trace telecommunications, their origins and destinations. Could my colleague highlight how the bill would make it impossible for those who would presume to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet to continue to do that kind of devious work?

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

April 28th, 2014 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a disgusting act to go online to convince somebody to take his or her own life. I think everybody in the House would agree with my colleague that his motion was an honourable one, a motion that definitely needed to come forward. I hope to see it enacted as we move forward.

One of the important things we are seeing in this, and which he highlighted in his question, is the fact that we are giving police the tools to actually trace where information comes from and who is doing this type of stuff. It is not being done to just one person; it is being done to multiple people. It is a sickness that needs to be dealt with. I call it a sickness because I do not know what else to call it. It is very disgusting when someone takes on the role of convincing somebody else to take his or her own life.

Having said that, we need to ensure we have balance. We need to ensure we preserve people's rights, dignity and privacy, and we want to ensure that exists. We also want to ensure that when we come across a situation where this is happening, police officers can have the data preserved so they can get court orders and warrants to do the proper investigation. There has to be a proper process put in place, which has been done in Bill C-13.

I look forward to seeing what impact these changes would have and that hopefully this bill would solve the issues involved in cyberbullying and the people who are disgusting enough to try to convince somebody else to commit suicide.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

April 28th, 2014 / 12:30 p.m.
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NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, for me this issue is very important. As a young woman, I have grown up with a lot of technology around and have learned to be wary over the years. Certainly young people need to know how to protect themselves, et cetera.

My colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord raised the importance of preventive measures. He presented a motion on a national strategy to prevent and end bullying. Unfortunately, the Conservatives voted against that. I would like to know why my colleague voted against that and believed it was not a good way forward to prevent bullying.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

April 28th, 2014 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, preventive measures are very important, which I think we would all agree on, but we also have to ensure we put a process in the bill, which we have done, that allows individual privacy to be protected, data to be retained and preserved, and a court order to be garnered before existing data is used. Police officers cannot simply say that they are going to start an investigation and grab all the information just for information sake. They actually have to ask for it to be preserved. They have to go the court to seek the appropriate legal warrant to use the data and then proceed with the criminal investigation. That is why Bill C-13 is so much better than what was proposed by the opposition.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

April 28th, 2014 / 12:35 p.m.
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NDP

Dany Morin Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. Conservative member opposite mentioned that the government's approach was better than the approach taken in the two bills introduced by the opposition, the NDP.

Based on my motion calling for a national bullying prevention strategy, we could have tackled many different kinds of cyberbullying. The Conservative bill deals only with sharing intimate photographs without people's consent. Many young people in Canada are being bullied in ways that do not include nude pictures being passed around. This can include hateful or threatening comments. Unfortunately, the government bill does not cover that.

Not only does the Conservative bill not meet Canadians' expectations, but it covers only one small part of the equation of cyberbullying.

Given what I just said, how can my Conservative colleague say that the NDP approach, which was more comprehensive, was not as good as the government's approach, which covers only the sharing of intimate photographs without consent?

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

April 28th, 2014 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is very important that we look at what we are trying to achieve here. We are not trying to get into partisan politics. We are not trying to say that ours is better than theirs, or theirs is better than ours. What we are really trying to do is focus on the fact people out there are being cyberbullied.

There is a process that needs to be put in place. There are tools available to the police services that they are not able to utilize. This bill would allow them to be utilized. It would also take on the fact that privacy would have to be respected. The bill would put in place a process to not only protect the data, but to ensure that the RCMP or the police services involved would have to get the legal warrant before they could continue on with their investigation.

The bill would safeguard privacy and would put in place tools so police forces could be effective in doing their job. These are tools that the police, at this point in time, are unable to use.

I am not going to get into partisan politics on which bill is better or who could do this better. I look forward to the debate at committee, because it is a great place for all of that to be discussed. There might be some better ideas that need to be added.

The reality is that this is a really good step. This proposed bill will save lives. It will address cyberbullying. It will address intimate images being used in cyberbullying attacks. I hope the bill will also address the disgusting act of convincing somebody to commit suicide over the Internet. It is a step in the right direction. Not only that, it is part of the bigger picture and the bigger puzzle. Education and other items of knowledge need to be passed to our kids so they understand exactly what they are doing when they send that text message or that email.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act
Government Orders

April 28th, 2014 / 12:35 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I must start by thanking my NDP colleagues for allowing me to speak on Bill C-13 today, because as a result of the application of time allocation for what I think was the 58th time, many of my colleagues will not have an opportunity to speak on this bill. Despite all of my colleagues obviously being New Democrats, we are a very diverse caucus with different experiences, and we represent different kinds of ridings here in the House of Commons.

I have risen to speak in favour of Bill C-13, but I do so with some reservations.

Unfortunately, the bill is, in effect, yet another omnibus bill that mixes together many other issues with the one that should have been central—that is, bullying and cyberbullying. Instead we have a rather mixed bag of provisions instead of a focused response to the urgent challenges of bullying and cyberbullying.

Rather than trying to address all the issues in the bill, I want to focus my remarks today on two aspects: first, the need for effective action to combat bullying; second, the proposed amendment to the hate crime section of the Criminal Code which, surprisingly, also appears in the bill in clause 12.

Since 2011, we in this House have had several opportunities to act on the issues of bullying and cyberbullying, but unfortunately we have made little progress. Nearly 18 months ago my colleague, the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, put forward a motion, Motion No. 385, which called upon the federal government to develop a national strategy with concrete steps to combat bullying. Unfortunately, the Conservatives voted down the motion, dismissing it as a call for further study, when in fact it was a call for leadership from the federal government in the fight against bullying and cyberbullying.

Last summer, on June 17, the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-540, which would amend the Criminal Code in order to make the non-consensual making or distribution of intimate images a criminal offence. At that time, we asked the government to expedite passage of the bill in order to try to prevent further tragedies like the suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons, which took place as a result of cyberbullying. Unfortunately, the government preferred to wait for its own bill, which has delayed action on this critical issue for nearly a year.

What we have before us now in Bill C-13 is much narrower than a strategy to combat cyberbullying, though it does have some provisions similar to those the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour proposed many months ago.

We are, of course, supporting the bill going to committee, precisely because some legislative action against cyberbullying is necessary, but again I want to emphasize that focusing on bullying after the fact can only be part of the solution.

Today I want to reiterate two points I made when speaking 18 months ago in support of our motion for a national anti-bullying strategy. They relate to the pervasiveness of bullying in our society and to its amplification by the existence of new technologies.

The prevalence and pervasiveness of bullying in Canada is truly shocking. In fact, bullying is happening around us all the time. In one analysis of Toronto-area schools, it was found that a student is bullied every seven seconds.

Egale Canada conducted a survey of homophobia and transphobia in schools across Canada. It found that 74% of transidentified students, 55% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students, and 26% of non-LGBTQ students reported being verbally harassed. More than half of those reported that this bullying occurred on a daily or weekly basis.

One UBC study of students in grades 8 to 10 found that 64% of students reported they had been bullied. Even more saddening for me is their acceptance of that inevitability, because 64% of these same students said they found bullying to be a normal part of school life.

People are bullied for an almost infinite number of reasons, but almost all of those reasons are connected to hostility toward deviation from the perceived norm: for being too short, too tall, too fat, too thin; for where they were born, the colour of their skin, the language they speak at home; for having an accent, for the clothes they wear, for sexual orientation, for their gender, for their gender presentation, for what they are able to afford. The list goes on and on, but the result is always the same: creating a sense of exclusion for the victims of bullying.

As technology has advanced, so has the means of bullying, with social networking, smart phones, and the Internet becoming second nature to people in Canada, especially young people. So has utilizing these resources for bullying. As a result, bullying has become intensified and its impacts more widely distributed.

Bullying is no longer a problem that only happens at school, on the school bus, or on the playground. It is no longer just a workplace problem. It can now follow victims home and invade their lives 24 hours a day each and every day of the year.

The consequences of bullying and the effects of bullying need to be taken seriously. We all know that the impacts of bullying on youth can be drastic and long-lasting. Young people who are bullied are more likely to face depression. It is estimated that male victims of bullying are five times more likely, and females victims three times more likely, to be depressed than their non-bullied classmates.

People who are victims of bullying are more susceptible to low self-esteem and are more likely to suffer from anxiety and illnesses. Young people who are bullied are more likely to engage in substance abuse and self-harm, and in recent years we have seen the tragic rise in the trend toward youth bullycide. The list of those young people who have taken their own lives as a result of bullying is already too long, and unfortunately continues to grow.

The costs of bullying are found not just on its impact on individuals. Bullying has wider social costs. One study has found that of elementary school bullies, one in four will have a criminal record by the time they are 30 years old.

We can and must move beyond our platitudes and expressions of concern about bullying and not limit our responses only to actions taken after the damage has already been done.

We all know that these bullying behaviours are learned. People are not born with hearts full of hate. At the root of our response to bullying must be efforts to build a more open and accepting society. If there was a real intolerance for discrimination and hate, then bullying clearly would not be so pervasive.

We could make a good start by calling bullying what it really is. We need to recognize that most bullying is rooted in sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and classism. These are serious prejudices that most Canadians find unacceptable in theory, but for some reason they are deemed acceptable when they are expressed in the form of bullying.

The need for a broad strategy as well as for anti-bullying legislation is so obvious. Unfortunately, what we find in the rest of the bill is a mixed bag of only tangentially related provisions, some with no clear connection to the problem at all.

Some things in the bill have been brought forward from the previously failed Bill C-30, but fortunately in this version it looks as if the important principle of judicial oversight of police access to Internet communications may be preserved. I look forward to hearing from Canadians about this aspect again when the bill reaches committee.

One surprise in Bill C-13 was the inclusion of clause 12. This section proposes the addition of some important provisions to the hate crime section of the Criminal Code. I am at a loss to explain why this proposal has suddenly appeared in the bill, but I think it is a positive thing.

Bill C-13 suggests adding national origins, age, sex, and mental or physical disability to the existing provisions of the hate crime section of the Criminal Code. While the connection to the other aspect of the bill is not immediately obvious, as I said, I do believe this is a good thing, but what is missing from this section is gender identity. This House has twice voted in favour of adding gender identity to the hate crime section of the Criminal Code, yet it is not included in clause 12 of the bill.

My own private member's bill, Bill C-279, is still stuck in the Senate more than a year after being passed in this House, and while I remain hopeful it will be adopted soon, there is an obvious potential problem in the conflict between Bill C-13 and my own private member's bill. Unfortunately, if the Senate does pass Bill C-279, clause 12 of Bill C-13 would inadvertently undo half that progress. Bill C-13 in its present form would actually remove gender identity from the hate crime section of the Criminal Code if my private member's bill has already passed, so when we get to committee, we will be having a serious discussion about an amendment to add gender identity to fix this omission.

It was more than three years ago that this House, in a minority Parliament, voted to add gender identity to the hate crime section of the Criminal Code, and, as I said, more than a year ago we voted to do that in my own private member's bill, so I am hoping that this proposed amendment to the hate crime section was inadvertent in its omission of gender identity and that this omission can be fixed in committee.

Let me return to what I believe is the important question that should be at the centre of Bill C-13, which is that there is an urgent need for Parliament to provide national leadership in the fight against bullying.

Despite our concerns about the bill being an omnibus bill and despite many of the other things stuffed into Bill C-13, we are supporting sending the bill to committee so that we can continue the dialogue on the important issue of bullying and cyberbullying.

What is of concern to me, as I mentioned at the outset, is the attitude that has become prevalent on the other side of the House that when three or four members have spoken, it is time to end debate. The very root of the word “Parliament” means a place where we can talk about the important national issues.

I feel it is a great privilege to stand here and speak to Bill C-13 as a man who comes from the LGBTQ community, which suffers inordinately from bullying. I think I bring a perspective somewhat different from that of some other members of the House. As someone from Vancouver Island, where we have a lot of early adapters of new technology, I know we see huge problems of bullying and cyberbullying in local schools. Frankly, teachers are at their wits' end in trying to find ways to deal effectively with it.

One thing that has been common in the responses I have received is a warning that we not look simply to criminal sanctions for youth to combat cyberbullying and that criminalizing bullying for young people could in fact be a serious problem.

I come back to the idea that we cannot just focus on what happens after the bullying. We have to provide national leadership in coming up with ways to attack this problem before the damage actually takes place. Some may say that is not a federal responsibility, but it is in the sense that when bullying and cyberbullying reach their most vicious levels, they often result in criminal acts. Since the Criminal Code is the responsibility of this federal Parliament, then we do have a responsibility for crime prevention. I would argue very strongly that a national strategy to prevent bullying and cyberbullying is a matter of crime prevention.

On the other side of the House we hear a lot of discussion about victims. We share the concern for victims in Canadian society, but how can we do our best job in addressing the needs of victims? We can do that by preventing victimization. Once again, there is a responsibility for the House to look at what we can do to make sure that victims are not created through bullying and cyberbullying.

When we get to committee, I would ask members on the other side to keep an open mind about those other things that we can do. We do not need just to find criminal sanctions, although there are some things here that I agree are necessary and that will be useful in the most extreme cases, but there are many more things we can do to make this the Canada that we all love and believe is a great place that includes a space for all Canadians.

Unfortunately, the evidence of bullying and cyberbullying shows that is not always the case. Whether we are talking about immigrant communities and their desire to contribute to Canada fully or whether we are talking about the LGBTQ community and our desire to be accepted in Canadian society and play our role very fully or whether we are talking about those with disabilities who are often sidelined in our society, we have to take all the measures that we can to make our country more inclusive and make it one we can all be even prouder of than we are now.

How do we do that? I come back to this argument again and again. We put forward a motion calling for a national strategy to combat bullying and cyberbullying, and this is where Bill C-13 falls short. It has measures looking at what we can do after the fact to investigate criminal cases of bullying. It has measures to help apprehend those people who ultimately have performed criminal acts when it comes to bullying, but it does not have measures that would help reduce this problem in our society.

I will return to my concern over Bill C-279.

It is a difficult situation for some people to understand. My bill should have already passed through the Senate and should already be law. We now have a situation in which transgendered Canadians are subject to hate crimes and bullying and are the group most subject to violence of all groups in our society. If that private member's bill—which passed the House a year ago, as I said several times today—had already been passed, we would have some of the tools we need to combat the epidemic of violence against transgendered people in Canada.

Canada is not alone. Transgendered people are the most subject to violence everywhere around the world. I remain very sad that the Senate has taken so long to get down to business on passing Bill C-279. It held hearings and heard witnesses a year ago in June at the human rights committee. It essentially finished the process of examining the bill and found it acceptable; then, because of prorogation, the process had to start over.

I am at a loss to see why the bill has to go back to another committee, this time to a legislative and constitutional affairs committee. We have had the promise from the senators that they will take up the bill in committee soon; however, that promise was made in February and we are now in April.

I am emphasizing this in Bill C-13 because this is where the two bills come together: in clause 12 and those amendments to the hate crimes section of the Criminal Code that are in this bill but fail to include gender identity. We have this unfortunate grinding of gears between the two Houses here. If in committee we are able to add gender identity to Bill C-13, that would be a good thing, because as a government bill it would make its way through the Senate expeditiously. I have now begun to fear that Bill C-279 will face the same fate as the previous bill on transgender rights and that it will die in the Senate without action before the next election. If we can get half a loaf here in Bill C-13, I am prepared to work for that. I look for support from the other side in correcting what I hope was an inadvertent omission of gender identity from those amendments that are in clause 12.

When we go back to our ridings when Bill C-13 is in committee, I know that all of us will hear from members of our communities about the urgency of what we are doing. And I know we will hear again from the Conservatives about the urgency. However, I have to emphasize that we have had many opportunities since 2011 to actually take action on what I call “remedial actions”, those things that take place after the fact. Again, I remain disappointed that the Conservatives would not expedite the private member's bill from the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, and we could have already had the non-consensual distribution of sexual images in the Criminal Code by this time. We would not still be waiting for that to happen. Of course, we could have already had a committee that had prepared a national strategy with concrete actions to combat bullying and cyberbullying.

As we near the summer recess, I am hoping Bill C-13 will actually get through, but then it also would face the hurdle of the Senate. Would the Senate deal expeditiously with this bill? Would it actually get these provisions passed in a timely manner? I can only hope that it would, but the irony is that Bill C-13 would go to the Constitution and legal affairs committee of the Senate where my private member's bill is also supposed to be going. The chances of both getting through before we get to summer seems kind of small. We have both the broader group of all those who face bullying and the narrower group of those trans Canadians who are depending on the Senate to take effective action soon. However, that just does not seem to be the way the Senate proceeds.

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April 28th, 2014 / 12:55 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, as one of my colleagues said, it is a mystery to me.

We had Amnesty International provide leadership, in creating a letter from 100 civil society organizations, which was sent to the Senate earlier this year, asking it to take urgent action on Bill C-279. Within two days, there was a response saying that it would act immediately and nothing has happened. So obviously the sense of what “immediate” means in the Senate and in this House is quite different.

My plea with senators today is to deal with Bill C-279 expeditiously and also, when this bill gets to them, as I am sure it will before we recess for the summer, to also deal with Bill C-13 expeditiously. I have to say that I am not optimistic that this will actually happen.

In conclusion, let me say I am proud to stand in this House today and speak to Bill C-13. It does contain things that we need to take action on, but, and there is always this unfortunate “but” when it comes to legislation from the current government, too many things have been stuffed into the same bill and so we are going to have to have some serious discussions in committee about some of the other things that have been tacked on to this bill. One of those is something I am very interested in and that is the question of gender identity in the hate crimes section of the Criminal Code.

I hope we will have co-operation in committee and that we will be able to get that amendment made, get Bill C-13 through this House, and take at least some limited action against bullying and cyberbullying before we recess for the summer.

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April 28th, 2014 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca is right that this bill is a bit of an omnibus bill. It covers everything from terrorism to telemarketing, cable stealing and hate speech.

I wonder if the member, who is very rightly concerned about the overlap between this bill and his private member's bill, Bill C-279, which is stuck in the Senate, thinks that splitting off all the provisions that relate to cyberbullying into a separate bill, which would allow the committee to leave aside examining the other parts of the bill, would be a better strategy to at least pass part of the bill and make sure it is coordinated with his own private member's bill and get it through the Senate before we rise for the summer.

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April 28th, 2014 / 12:55 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, as usual, the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands takes a reasonable approach to these matters.

I would point out that when Bill C-13 was introduced, on this side we offered exactly what the member suggested. We told the government we were prepared to take out those urgent matters dealing with cyberbullying, have them in a separate bill, and pass them expeditiously through the House. It rejected that approach to doing so. Therefore, while I take seriously that the government wants this action to happen, I remain concerned that at each turn there is more and more delay on things that could have been done much earlier in the House.

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April 28th, 2014 / 12:55 p.m.
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NDP

Laurin Liu Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague on the tireless work he does on behalf of transgendered people.

I feel it is important to mention during this debate that the NDP has tabled bullying prevention measures. I would like to mention the initiative of my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, who introduced Bill C-540, as well as the work done by my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, who moved Motion No. 385 to create a national bullying prevention strategy.

We asked the Conservatives to work with us but, unfortunately, they played petty politics with this very important issue.

As my colleague mentioned, the government often uses its bills to impose measures that have nothing to do with the bill's objective. We have seen the same thing with omnibus bills.

Could my colleague explain the link between cyberbullying and the fact that this bill includes a two-year sentence for stealing cable signals?

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April 28th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I did not suggest that there be theft of cable signals in this bill. It is a good example of this tendency to stuff a bunch of other things into a bill which is called the prevention of cybercrime as kind of a catch-all title for the bill. Therefore, it makes it very difficult for us as members of Parliament to debate and vote on bills when the government has a bunch of unrelated things put into the same bill.

As I have mentioned, in this case we have seen bills that were dropped, such as Bill C-30, brought back into this bill, admittedly in a better form. However, I am not sure what that has to do with bullying or cyberbullying.

There have been a lot of things mixed together in this bill, which makes it difficult for us to debate and make decisions on this. When we get to committee, perhaps there will be some opportunity to narrow the focus of the bill or improve the focus of the bill. I certainly hope that is the case.