House of Commons Hansard #101 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was police.

Topics

Iran
Oral Questions

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

October 27th, 2009 / 3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, I have an unofficial copy of the blues here, and I would ask you just to review the blues and the tapes, and I think you will find that the minister, in responding to my second question, used unparliamentary language.

All I would ask you to do is ask her to apologize and withdraw the statement.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. member for Cardigan and I will, as he requests, review the document.

Have we now completed all procedural matters?

The hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord has another point of order.

Technical Difficulties in the Chamber
Oral Questions

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to drag the points of order out, but I had to leave the chamber to look something up while the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons raised his point of order.

It was not the members of the Bloc Québécois who asked that the sitting be suspended due to the failure of the interpretation system. I shall point out to the House and my hon. colleagues that the members of the Bloc Québécois are not the only unilingual ones in this place. There is interpretation from English to French and from French to English. I think there are more bilingual members from the Bloc Québécois than on the Conservative Party's side.

Technical Difficulties in the Chamber
Oral Questions

3:50 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his intervention and I recognize the fact that I spoke incorrectly. I apologize for that.

Obviously the purpose of my point of order was to make sure we correct the inequity in not allowing members of the opposition party their adjournment proceedings.

I thank all members for the unanimous support to allow that to occur this Wednesday.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-47, An Act regulating telecommunications facilities to support investigations, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

When this matter was last before the House, the hon. member Ajax—Pickering had the floor. He has 18 minutes in the time remaining that is allocated for him in the debate. Accordingly, I am pleased to call upon the hon. member for Ajax--Pickering.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak again on this matter.

Before I came to this House, I was a member of the Durham Regional Police Services Board. When I was there, I had the opportunity obviously on a regular basis to talk with officers around the changing technologies and the fact that our laws simply had not kept pace. People were committing fraud online or hiding behind anonymity on Internet service providers and performing serious crimes, and the police simply could not follow them.

I was first elected in 2004 and when I came to Parliament, I was pleased to support the work of the then Liberal government to create what was the modernization of investigative techniques act. That bill which was introduced in 2005 is ostensibly what is before the House today in both bills, Bill C-46 and Bill C-47, which is now being debated. Unfortunately, in 2005 the Conservatives precipitated an election and that killed the bill.

The member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine then reintroduced that as a private member's bill in the next session and again that bill was killed when the Prime Minister walked to the Governor General's office and then killed that legislation.

In this session of Parliament that same Liberal member of Parliament introduced that Liberal legislation yet again. We had to wait until the end of the last session before the Conservatives finally introduced it.

As I said, just before we began question period, it is a little rich to me that the Conservatives would be going on about the imperative need to pass the bill and how much it is needed for police and how critical it is when they in fact have had four years to introduce it and are the ones responsible for killing it in various stages at various moments in time.

When they finally did introduce it, they introduced it in the last week the House was sitting before summer when there was no opportunity to debate it, there was no opportunity to move it forward. Now, it has been left until the end of October before we are finally dealing with the bill.

It shows that the Conservatives' commitment to the bill is fragile at best. In fact, we have seen what they do on criminal justice matters. They introduce bills and let them languish on the order paper. Then they wait for a scandal or a problem to hit and then they seek refuge in those same crime bills, suddenly bringing them back with great urgency saying they need to be dealt with immediately and any opposition party that dares to ask a question on them is somehow soft on crime.

The facts do not measure up. The facts are that they have allowed these things to languish for years and something that should have been dealt with, the Liberal legislation that was introduced so long ago, has meant that those people are committing online fraud and the police officers who need those additional investigative techniques and tools have been left without them as the government has completely failed them.

I think it is important to note as well that this is not the only area where we have seen this problem with the government. I spoke a great deal yesterday about the importance of these new investigative techniques for police. My intention is not today to repeat all of those comments but to make a comment more generally on the direction the Conservatives are heading on crime.

Today, in the public safety and national security committee we had a couple of different witnesses. One of the witnesses was Dr. Craig Jones who is the executive director of the John Howard Society of Canada. His insights into the direction in which the government is heading on crime I think is very telling. I will quote from his comments today. He said at the beginning of his statement:

My second audience is the future. I suffer no illusions that I will be able to alter the course of this government’s crime agenda--which legislative components contradict evidence, logic, effectiveness, justice and humanity. The government has repeatedly signalled that its crime agenda will not be influenced by evidence of what does and does not actually reduce crime and create safer communities.

What we heard as well from Mr. Stewart along with Michael Jackson, who wrote a report about the government's broken direction on corrections and crime, is that we are walking down the same road that the Americans embarked on in the early 1980s, when Republicans came forward and presented the same type of one-type solution for crime, which is incarceration, more incarceration and only incarceration.

If we did not have that example and the example that was in the United Kingdom, perhaps the Conservatives would be forgiven for thinking that would work. The reality of the United States is that this is a catastrophic disaster. In fact, the governor of California is now saying the state is being crushed under the weight of the mistake of these decisions, that the prisons are literally overflowing. The supreme court of California had to release thousands of offenders into the streets because the prisons simply had no room for them.

We also see that these prisons become crime factories. Minor criminals go in often for drug-related crimes, break and enters or smaller but still serious crimes, but instead of getting help for the addiction or mental health issues they face, they get sent into prison environments where they learn to be much worse criminals. We could make the analogy of putting in a butter knife and getting out a machine gun.

In fact, in committee today the director of the John Howard Society quoted an individual who deals with aboriginal inmates and said that our prison systems are turning into “gladiator schools”. He stated:

So our federal prisons have become “gladiator schools” where we train young men in the art of extreme violence or where we warehouse mentally ill people. All of this was foreseeable by anyone who cared to examine the historical experience of alcohol prohibition, but since we refuse to learn from history we are condemned to repeat it.

Everyone can imagine that as we continually overpopulate these prisons and do not provide the services to rehabilitate people, it has to come out somewhere. Where it comes out is in a system that continually degenerates.

In California the rate of recidivism, the rate at which people reoffend, is now 70%. Imagine that, 7 out of every 10 criminals who go into that system come out and reoffend, and those offences are often more serious than the ones they went in for first. In other words, people are going into the system and then coming out much worse.

We have to remember that even when we increase sentences, over 90% of offenders will get out. We can extend the length of time they are staying in there, but at a certain time they are going to get out, and it is the concern of anybody who wants a safe country or community that when people come out of these facilities, they come out ready to be reintegrated, to contribute to society and not reoffend.

The other fundamental problem with the Conservative approach to crime is that it waits for victims. Conservatives think the only way to deal with crime is to wait until somebody has been victimized and a crime has occurred, and then to punish the person.

Of course, we believe in serious sentences. We have to have serious sentences for serious crimes, but that is not nearly enough. If it were enough, if simply having tough sentences were enough to stop crime, then places like Detroit, Houston and Los Angeles would be the safest cities in North America. We know that is certainly not the case.

What the Conservatives are doing is slashing crime prevention budgets. Actual spending in crime prevention has been slashed by more than 50% since the Conservatives came into power. They have cut programs.

I have gone to communities like Summerside and talked to the Boys and Girls Clubs or the Salvation Army in different communities. They said they have either lost funding for community projects to help youth at risk or, instead of being given the power to decide how to stop crime in their own communities, they are prescribed solutions from on high in Ottawa, which is disconnected and often does not work in those local communities.

The net result is that the community, which has the greatest capacity to stop crime, has its ability removed of stopping that crime from happening in the first place, which means even more people go to these prisons, continually feeding this factory of crime the Conservatives are marching forward with.

When we look at the costs of all of this, not only does it not provide a benefit, not only does it make our communities less safe, as has been proven in the United States, but there is a staggering cost to these policies. Pursuing a failed Republican agenda on crime that not even the Republicans would subscribe to any more in most states and most quarters in the United States comes with a staggering cost.

The Conservatives are refusing to release those figures. The minister has been refusing to tell us what exactly the price tag is for all of these measures they are putting on the table. That is why I have asked the Parliamentary Budget Officer to take a look at all of these measures and their approach on crime, and tell us just what the cost is.

That bears some important questions to be asked. Where are the Conservatives going to get the money to build these new super prisons that they are talking about? Where are they going to get the money to house all of these additional inmates? Presumably, they would provide programs and services to make these inmates better. Where is that money going to come from?

If the example in the United States is any evidence, or if the example of the Conservatives' own action in slashing crime prevention budgets is any example, then we know that they will cut from the very things that stop crime from happening in the first place. Imagine the irony of that. To pay for prisons, they are going to cut the very things that stop people from going to prison. It is a backward philosophy under any logic. Upon examination of more than a minute or two, one would recognize that it is a recipe for disaster.

If that were not bad enough, and I think that it speaks directly to this bill, the Conservatives have also betrayed police. I have talked with the Canadian Police Association about the government's commitment to put 2,500 new officers on the street. That association has called that broken promise a betrayal. However, we also know that, with respect to the RCMP, the Prime Minister went out to Vancouver where he made a solemn commitment to RCMP officers that they would get the same wage as other police officers and that they would receive parity with other police officers.

Right after making that promise and signing a contract, he ripped that contract up and broke the promise. Worse, as if that was not enough of an insult to the men and women who are our national police force, the government then challenged in court the right of RCMP officers to have the choice of whether or not they wanted to have collective bargaining. The government decided to challenge a right that is enjoyed by every other police force in the country.

At the same time, the government has ignored call after call by public inquiry after public inquiry for proper and adequate oversight. The reports and conclusions of Justice Iacobucci and Justice O'Connor made it clear that new oversight mechanisms were critical to ensure that public confidence remained in our national security institutions and our national police force, yet the government ignored it. In this example, it ignored for four years Liberal legislation that had been put forward to give officers the tools that they needed to do the job of keeping our communities safe.

In all of this, the government's response is to skew the Liberal record and be dishonest about what exactly Liberals have done on crime. Here is an inconvenient fact that it does not like to talk about. For every year the Liberal government was in power, crime rates went down. Every single year that we were in power, Canada became a safer place. The communities were safer and that is because we took a balanced approach to crime.

However, the government also says that we have blocked its crime bills. That is incredibly disingenuous. Here is the reality. Maybe I will go over a couple of bills just from this session. These are bills that the Liberal Patry not only supported but moved to accelerate and tried to find a way to get passed as expediently as possible in the House.

The government caused an election, so it killed all of its own bill. When it brought back Bill C-2, it included Bill C-10, Bill C-32, Bill C-35, Bill C-27 and Bill C-22, all of which we supported. We supported and looked to accelerate Bill C-14, Bill C-15, Bill C-25 and C-26.

That is the record of Liberals in this session of Parliament on crime, not to mention the Liberal record of reducing crime every year that we were in office previously.

Today I was doing an Atlantic radio talk show with a Conservative member of Parliament who ascribed the motive to the Liberal Party that we did not care about crime, that we are soft on criminals, and that we like to let people get away with things. I will say one thing about the Conservatives. I think that they believe what they say. I think that they honestly believe that these policies will work, even though they have failed. Even though Republicans have tried them and they have been utter disasters, I do believe that the Conservatives think they will work.

However, to ascribe motive to this side of the House and to say that we somehow care less about the safety of our communities is disingenuous. To say that I care less about the safety of my children, family or community is unacceptable. This debate needs to be about who has the best approach to crime.

I would suggest that we have the best approach to stop crime before it happens, to build safe communities, to ensure we strike the right balance between being tough on those who commit serious crimes, but, most important, working with every ounce of our bodies to ensure those who begin to turn down dark paths have people who step in and intervene to ensure they do not commit those crimes in the first place. That is the type of approach we advocate on crime and it is one that I am proud of.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering for his comments but, quite frankly, I do not know what they had to do with Bill C-47, the technical assistance for law enforcement in the 21st century bill.

Nonetheless, I listened carefully as he criticized the Conservative law and order agenda and all the bills that we have put forward to promote safe streets and safe communities. If he is so opposed to what he called a “republican method of crime reduction”, why does he consistently vote in favour of our crime bills, including twice yesterday?

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have listed the bills we have supported. I have no problem, for example, eliminating the two for one credit for remand. In some cases, there was actually a three for one credit for remand.

However, my problem is that the government refuses to acknowledge the fact that underneath the surface of that is a massive problem with remand itself. The conditions in remand are such that people are being put in there with no programs, no services and often being released directly from those conditions back into the community where they become hardened criminals. We are creating a system where people go in for minor crimes and come out for much more serious crimes.

As I said in my comments, how this all relates to the bill that is before us, Bill C-47, is that it is a wrong approach overall that the government is taking on crime. Every opportunity I have to talk about the direction in which the government is going on crime I will make these statements because I think we need to be honest about the total picture here.

I also made the comment quite clearly that both Bill C-46 and Bill C-47 have been in this House since 2005 and that it is the government and the Conservatives who have stalled its passage and, in that regard, have impeded the passage of legislation that is critical to keeping our communities safe.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, my party is also concerned about the potential abuse of the Internet and telecommunications for criminal activities. I would like to ask the hon. member some questions about whether his bill included similar kinds of provisions, or if he has objections to some of the provisions in this bill.

As a lawyer who has been involved in enforcement, particularly environmental enforcement, I am very concerned when I see the slippage of respect for things such as a requirement for reasonable grounds or the requirement to obtain a warrant.

I wonder if the member has some concerns with clause 16, for example, which is a broad brush power to get all kinds of information about a subscriber, where there is no need whatsoever to even suggest there is reasonable cause that an offence is or may be committed. As well, the designation of the persons who may obtain this information is not time dated. It could be that there is this running list into the next century of people who are qualified, even if they are not in the position any more.

I am particularly concerned about the issue that they may request but not through a warrant. Is that necessary?

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, a number of stakeholders have raised the concern of accessing Internet service provider records without the use of a warrant. They have acknowledged that there is a significant oversight mechanism after the fact but the problem is with what we do beforehand. One of the things we will need to look at in committee is how we provide timely access to police to ensure they are able to go after the individuals who are committing serious crimes and have the ability to chase after those who have a huge technological advance on them.

At the same time, the member's very legitimate concern is something we will need to work on in committee to ensure privacy concerns are respected. As well, Canadians have clearly said that we need to ensure privacy is respected and that this power is not abused. This is a very technical bill and I think we have a lot of work to do in committee to ensure those concerns are taken care of.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Kania Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I asked a question earlier of the Conservative member for Saint Boniface and, although I appreciated her compliments directed toward me, I did not get a straight answer. I will now ask my friend the same question.

I have no problem supporting Bill C-47 going to committee but this is essentially the same bill that was introduced by the Liberal government in 2005. It taken four years to get here, why now?

We have 500,000 full time jobs lost under the Conservatives, an EI crisis, an isotopes crisis, a pension crisis and an H1N1 pandemic crisis with late vaccines in comparison to other countries. Pregnant women in Canada right now cannot get it. We had a death in Mississauga just recently. I cannot believe that we are dealing with this legislation four years after we introduced it, rather than dealing with all these other serious issues.

I would like my friend to comment on why we are dealing with this now rather than on what truly matters to Canadians right now.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act
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4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is right. This should have been dealt with years ago. It should have been allowed to pass in 2005, instead of the Conservatives causing an election then. It should have been allowed to pass when the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine had introduced it in the previous session of Parliament before the Prime Minister killed it by going to the Governor General. It should have been introduced at the first opportunity in this session of Parliament.

Instead, as I mentioned, it was introduced right before the summer and then sat languishing on the order paper. However, that is not unusual. The reality is that many of the government's justice and crime bills languished on the order paper for years. We all remember Bill C-19, which dealt with investigative hearings. We were told that we were unpatriotic because we asked questions about it and that it had to be passed instantly. Suddenly, however, it sat on the order paper for two years and the Conservatives forgot all about it.

Why do they bring back these bills? I think the answer to that question rests with their recent troubles. When they get hit with a scandal and are dealing with a problem with cheque scandals and ministers embattled with various questions of impropriety, their first reaction is to drag back whatever justice bills have been languishing on the order paper as a channel changer.

That is the truth of the government's agenda on crime. It uses crime as a political weapon and as safe harbour. If other things are not going well, it retrenches to crime and talks about crime to try to change the channel.

Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have here a bill that complements the one we debated this week, namely Bill C-46. In fact, together, bills C-46 and C-47 seem to make up former Bill C-74, introduced by the Liberals in 2004.

This bill is in fact designed to provide police with capabilities to intercept electronic communications, using modern means of communication. As long as there is agreement on the fact that telephone interception greatly contributed to the dismantling of criminal networks and the gathering of evidence with respect to numerous conspiracies, and that it made it possible to apprehend offenders and sentence them for the right amount of time, short of making the argument that all telephone interception ought to be abolished, I do not think that anyone can seriously object to modernizing police capabilities for intercepting communications using modern technologies such as the Internet and electronic means.

People started talking about the Convention on Cybercrime in 1995. Canada met with European nations, Japan and South Africa, among others. These meetings led to an agreement in 2001, which is a significant date. The agreement was signed soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York. Long before that, we had seen plenty of evidence here at home that exceptional investigative powers were critical to fighting organized crime.

Just last week, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights met with witnesses in Montreal and Halifax as part of its study of major criminal organizations. In both cities, police officers said much the same thing about how difficult it is for them to conduct electronic surveillance of organized crime groups. Among other things, they said that cell phones are so cheap, people can buy one, make a few calls, and then throw it away, sometimes on the same day it was purchased, then switch to a new one. It takes a long time for police officers to get the legal warrants they need, and in the meantime, they cannot monitor transactions between the gangs and cartels they are trying to catch.

Bloc members support effective measures to fight crime, but they completely disagree with the current government's policies on incarceration because excessive incarceration and mandatory minimum sentences have already been tried in places like the United States. These measures have produced terrible results in the United States, which has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Some 25% of all prisoners in the world are in American prisons, yet this approach has not put a dent in the crime rate. Naturally, we oppose such measures.

We would not want Canada and Quebec to take the same route, which leads to increasingly violent crime and results in a portion of the population whose lives have been broken by excessive sentences and who are discouraged from getting an education or taking training to get a job. We do not want that in Canada. We know that that is what will happen. That is not what the government is announcing. That is not what it talked about.

We understand from the government's arguments that the only reason it is pursuing its policies is because they are popular with voters. Last week, it was appalling to hear them explain what had been the benefits of conditional sentences, which allowed judges to avoid sending an offender to crime school for a first offence, but instead to let the offender continue holding a job and therefore have stability in order to live an honest life, get an education for that purpose and, in the case of drug problems, go through addiction treatment under threat of serving time in prison if the offender did not attend treatment. Now, the government wants to eliminate this tool that judges had.

I may be getting a little off track. I have already talked quite a bit about Bill C-46. We support this bill. Why is it being introduced now? Certainly not because the opposition obstructed the government. When measures are introduced that help fight crime or will reduce the crime rate, the Bloc supports them. But we oppose measures than will have no effect on the crime rate. In this case, these are necessary measures.

However, these bills still have to be looked at carefully. Some things are needed to combat major criminal organizations. But most of the population, which is made up of honest people, is worried and would not want Canada to become a society where the government can easily look into all aspects of their personal lives. Honest people expect some parts of their private lives to remain confidential.

We need solid guidelines for accessing the information that can be obtained by intercepting all communications that involve modern information technology, such as computers and the Internet.

I believe that most citizens are honest and law abiding, as the Conservatives have said so often. However, I wonder if the Prime Minister falls into that category of law abiding citizens. I know of one law—we are all familiar with it—that he broke, the one concerning fixed election dates. He called the last election.

In my opinion, we must be very careful and realize that the majority of Canadians believe that they have the right to a private life and that the state should not have access to all their communications for frivolous reasons. I believe that the bill was designed with this in mind. However, that does not mean that it is perfect.

We are surprised, and we will certainly want to discuss this, by the complexity of this bill, which must be studied in detail. What is striking is the amount of information that can be obtained without a legal warrant and solely on the basis of suspicions or with a warrant obtained solely on the basis of suspicions. When electronic surveillance was permitted, legal warrants were required and there had to be reasonable grounds for believing that information could be obtained to prove an offence had taken place or even to prevent certain criminal activities from occurring. Furthermore, other means of investigation had to have been attempted without providing results.

We seem to have readily accepted it now that electronic surveillance has proved its worth in police investigations and given many results that have pleased citizens. I can personally say that had we not had the means to conduct electronic surveillance, we would never have broken up the Hells Angels in Quebec, as we did in 2001 after three years of hard work. I think that citizens appreciate what we accomplished.

There no longer seems to be a reluctance to use electronic surveillance. In this regard, I think that police forces that come before the committee should be prepared. I am not saying from the outset, in the four categories of measures to obtain certain warrants, that it is always necessary to prove that other means of investigation would be impossible to undertake or not very useful. However, I am saying that at least once they must shoulder the burden of proof.

It should be noted that can be obtained without a court order is more or less what I would call the telephone book of IP addresses. Furthermore, it took me a while to understand the purpose of these IP addresses, despite the fact that I consider myself rather computer savvy. I was also glad to learn what they do. My understanding is that they help safeguard access to my computer in a way. Of course, I would be very worried to hear that other people can find out these IP numbers without my authorization. Yes, it is more complicated, but really, it is nearly the same as the phone book. However, in the case of the phone book, we can ask for an unlisted number.

I also noted another important point that must definitely stay in the bill. Access to this information is limited to certain people, either police officers or national security officials, and those individuals must answer to someone in their organization. They must keep records regarding requests and the information they are seeking, and they must be able to justify them.

When an individual police officer needs to quickly access this kind of information, he or she must bring it to a superior officer. All of these records are kept in police organizations and security organizations. In addition— something that is very important for us—a copy must be sent to the Privacy Commissioner, which gives me greater confidence. At least there will be one public official whose primary desire is not to unduly increase police powers. Furthermore, based on the positions that these organizations generally take, there is no doubt that they really are dedicated to their duty to protect privacy. I find that reassuring. I also think an in-depth study is needed, which should include the views of two people in particular, Chantal Bernier and Jennifer Stoddart. The name of Ms. Stoddart's organization escapes me at the moment.

Ms. Bernier's agency handles privacy protection. I believe that we should certainly listen to them. We should also certainly listen to volunteer agencies such as the Commission des droits et libertés de la personne du Québec that have done so much to help achieve a balance between investigation methods and the protection of individual rights.

That is the role the Bloc Québécois has taken on in these circumstances. We want to modernize measures that can truly have an impact on crime. We are prepared to support them. However, we believe there needs to be a balance.

The Conservatives keep proposing minimum sentences and are always pushing their tough on crime policy, which, in their case, has become a stupid on crime policy. We agree that something has to be done, but we believe that there has to be a balance in protecting individual freedoms. Protecting individual freedoms is the foundation of the societies we are proud of and want to uphold. It is the foundation of democratic societies.

I believe that Kofi Annan was thinking along the same lines when he said that the terrorists will have won if they force democratic societies to unduly increase the powers of the state. That is what I noticed when we studied the Anti-terrorism Act in detail. I am not saying the Act was not justified, on the contrary, but there was no way to show the government, not even with concrete examples, that some of the provisions of that legislation were unjustified.

Fortunately, we managed to convince the person who was Liberal leader for a short period of time, the hon. member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville. When he refused to renew the sunset clauses, I heard him repeating the same arguments we used to show that these measures were not necessary.

The purpose of Bill C-47 is to allow police forces to adapt their investigative techniques to contemporary technological realities such as the widespread use of cellphones or the Internet. Making police work easier without unduly infringing on fundamental rights is one of the routes the Bloc Québécois has always preferred for fighting crime.

The government can count on us not to obstruct this bill. We hope it will pass, but that it will be improved by the criticism we will make and that it will strike a better balance between the tools police need to fight modern criminal organizations and the privacy Quebeckers and Canadians are entitled to and want to enjoy for a long time to come.