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 internet.

Topics

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition that calls for a stop to the Canada-Colombia trade deal. The violence against workers and members of civil society by paramilitaries in Colombia, who are closely associated with the current Uribe government, has been ongoing with more than 2,200 trade unionists murdered since 1991.

It has continued unabated right up to this day, as well as a host of violence committed against indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians, human rights activists, workers, farmers, labour leaders and journalists. The Canada-Colombia trade deal was negotiated following a framework similar to the NAFTA agreement, which has mainly benefited huge corporations at the expense of working people.

In fact, labour side agreements under NAFTA have not produced effective protection for farmers. Over one million agriculture jobs have been lost in Mexico since NAFTA was signed. All trade agreements must be built upon the principles of fair trade, which fundamentally respect social justice, human rights, labour rights and environmental stewardship as prerequisites for trade.

Finally, the petitioners call on Parliament to reject the Canada-Colombia trade deal until an independent human rights impact assessment is carried out, resulting in concerns addressed. They call for the agreement to be renegotiated along the principles of fair trade, which would take environmental and social impacts fully into account while genuinely respecting and enhancing labour rights and the rights of all affected parties.

Postal Service
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition on behalf of my constituents along the highway 11 corridor. The petition asks the government to ensure moratoriums on post office closures and that these be maintained open. The petition also opposes the legalization of remailers and asks that the proposed legislation be withdrawn.

The petition also calls on the Government of Canada to ensure that Canada Post expands and improves postal services within rural areas, given the key role that these services play in the social and economic life of our communities, such as Val Rita, Kapuskasing, Moonbeam, Chapleau, Wawa, Manitouwadge and White River. I could go on, but I believe the House gets the drift.

Therefore, once again, I am pleased to table this petition on behalf of my constituents.

Tax Harmonization
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of hundreds of constituents from Victoria who express their concern about the implementation of the harmonized sales tax at a time when they say Canadians are already struggling because the GST, the federal tax, is charged on more products than the existing provincial sales tax. The HST, they say, will increase the cost on many everyday goods and services like vitamins, haircuts, newspapers, movies and so on, and it will hurt many community businesses in Victoria.

The petitioners are asking the federal government to rescind this measure because no steps have been taken to mitigate the impact on our communities.

Duchess of Kent Legion
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I present a petition on behalf of the Duchess of Kent Legion, Branch 263. The Legion has fallen into financial difficulty with the Canada Revenue Agency due to a theft of GST funds by a former employee. While that employee was charged and convicted of the crime, stolen moneys were never recovered.

The Duchess of Kent Legion has a debt of more than $275,000 and despite paying thousands and thousands of dollars on this debt the accruing interest has driven the Legion deeper into debt every month. The Minister of National Revenue has the authority under section 23(2) of the Financial Administration Act to forgive the principal and interest.

The petitioners ask the Parliament of Canada to direct the Minister of National Revenue to exercise his authority and forgive the debt. We owe it to our veterans, men and women who have served our country with honour and courage. We need to save their Legion.

Vancouver Chinatown
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to present a petition. I think it is the third time that I have presented this petition from the people in the Vancouver Chinatown area and Vancouver generally who are very supportive of the idea of designating Chinatown as a national historic site.

The petitioners recognize that Chinatown has been a very important hub for commercial, social and cultural activities in the Chinese community since the 19th century and continues to be a treasured part of Vancouver today.

The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to work with all levels of government and the community to recognize and preserve the rich legacy of Vancouver's Chinatown, and to designate Chinatown as a national historic site.

Volunteer Service Medal
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present a petition on behalf of over 50 constituents in my riding, to introduce a new volunteer service medal to be known as the Governor General's volunteer medal to acknowledge and recognize volunteerism by Canadian troops.

During a specified period of service to their country, Canadians from September 1939 to March 1947 received the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal. During a specified period of service to their country, Canadians from June 1950 to July 1954 received the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal for their service in Korea.

The undersigned residents of my riding respectfully call upon the Government of Canada to recognize, by means of the issuance of the new Canadian volunteer service medal to be designated the Governor General's volunteer service medal, volunteer service by Canadians in regular or reserve military forces and cadet corps support staff who were not eligible for the aforementioned medals and who have completed 365 days of uninterrupted honourable duty in the service of their country.

Canadian International Development Agency
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition today from people from all four western Canadian provinces.

The petitioners are calling upon the Government of Canada to end funding to Planned Parenthood by the Canadian International Development Agency. They are particularly concerned because they view it as an organization that attacks family values and they are also particularly concerned because the money that CIDA is spending is supposed to be going to development aid and to help the poor people of the world, and instead it is being wasted on promoting propaganda.

Questions on the Order paper
Routine Proceedings

October 27th, 2009 / 10:25 a.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 ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order paper
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order paper
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from October 26 consideration of the motion that Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise here today to speak to Bill C-46. We will probably study Bill C-47 either later today or tomorrow. Bills C-46 and C-47 are very closely related to each other and, for those watching us, have to do with cybercrime.

It appears that the Canadian government has finally entered the 21st century and wants to address the very serious problem of cybercrime. Before going into the details, I would like to give some background. There was a convention, if we can call it that, known as the convention on cybercrime. That convention was the subject of many meetings. In fact, there were 27 different versions of the convention on cybercrime before the final version was drafted and signed by many countries, including Canada, the United States, Japan, South Africa, and even the Council of Europe. All the countries that signed the convention undertook to introduce one or more bills to implement the convention on cybercrime. That is precisely what the government is doing here today.

We can examine the technical details of the bill in committee. Yes, the Bloc Québécois agrees that Bill C-46 should move forward and be referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. This will also probably be true for Bill C-47.

Bill C-46 should allow police forces to adapt their investigative techniques to modern technologies like cellphones, iPods, the Internet, as well as social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter that link today's online world. This bill will give police forces access to such technologies.

When a bill like this is introduced there is one thing the government and parliamentarians must not forget: the bill must not infringe on basic rights even though we are trying to properly equip our police forces to deal with crime. All of this is being done in response to what happened in 2001. Even though we know that work on cybercrime began in 1995, the events of September 2001 had a substantial impact. That is when governments realized they did not have the means to intercept certain communications. Before and after 1995, and even before and after 2001, surveillance was used. It was very easy to realize you were being followed. We are not talking about a James Bond movie here. We are not nearly as sophisticated as the show 24, where the characters are totally equipped to deal with crimes of this nature. We needed to find tools to help deal with cybercrime and make them available to our police forces.

Cybercrime is very subtle and very insidious. It is everywhere today. The members opposite, especially those from the Conservative Party, talk about the luring of children or what some people attempt to do with computers, namely slowly but surely approach children to have sexual encounters.

It is much more than that. I am not saying that the luring of children is not a serious crime, far from it. This is an extremely serious crime. There are also other crimes that are much more subtle, including identity theft and the planning of major crimes. Just look at the London subway bombings. They were planned right here in Canada. Somewhere near Toronto, attacks were being planned with global targets. Here in Canada, the police thanked an individual whose assistance was instrumental in foiling a crime about to unfold in Great Britain.

Cybercrime has become a global phenomenon. Today, we cannot simply say that cybercrime only occurs in Canada, Quebec, or Ottawa and the surrounding region. Cybercrime is a global phenomenon and it has to be addressed globally. That is the purpose of Bill C-46 and Bill C-47, which we will study in the coming days.

There is something worrying me. We will have to carefully study the intrusion into the personal life of an individual. I hesitate to say this because the line between the intrusion into the rights of an individual versus the protection of society is increasingly blurred. We will have to keep a very close eye on this as we study the bill. We must ensure that citizens do not run the risk of being more vulnerable to an intrusion into their private lives. I do not think that anyone in this House is against adapting legislation to the new realities in technology and crime.

I believe that it is abundantly clear that criminals, especially those working on the Web, are brilliant for the most part. Anyone who can use such tools as Facebook or Twitter and the whole Internet is intelligent enough to hatch a good plan for a crime.

We are very close to that reality when we see someone using their cell phone, sending coded messages and providing information over the Internet. We have to follow this up. I will give the example of the transfer of “illegal” funds to tax havens. I spoke about this when debating Bill C-42 and Bill C-52. Today, criminals who use computer technology are increasingly smart. Thus, police forces must be equipped to deal with them. That is the objective of Bill C-46.

Technologies do not just benefit criminals and are also available to police. The Bloc Québécois believes that it is important and rather urgent for police to be equipped to detect not just crimes that have been committed, not just those about to be committed, but those that are being planned. We have to be one step ahead of the criminal planning a crime and able to intervene before an offence is committed. That is the objective of Bill C-46.

However, we must avoid allowing the police to use their investigative tools to gain access to a very large amount of information—it goes that far—but we must also monitor some peoples' activities on the Internet to learn more about their private lives. It goes far beyond listening to telephone conversations. This bill goes much further than that.

However, we must find a balance between the fundamental rights to privacy and safety. That is what this is all about. Is the right to privacy more important that the right to safety? That line is easily crossed by police officers or unscrupulous individuals.

We must remember that some police offers were convicted of having used the computer system of the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec to monitor a spouse's new friend and watch over the movements of that individual. Those police officers were convicted because they had taken private information.

We must be very careful, and this will probably be the most important debate over the next few months. The Ligue des droits et libertés has raised some concerns. We must be careful, we must be prudent, we must be aware, and we must realize that there could be some slip-ups. When it comes to truly addressing security concerns, is protecting the rights of individuals less important than protecting society? That is a debate that will have to be held when the time comes to examine the bill in committee.

It is clear, and I would like to share a little about what the Ligue des droits et libertés has said. According to the Ligue, the bill constitutes an unprecedented invasion of privacy. It has brought up the following points. The government is presenting its bills as a way to make the necessary changes to traditional investigative powers for electronic surveillance to adapt to new communication technologies. But there is no comparison between the information transmitted through a telephone conversation and information that circulates freely.

Moreover, unlike telephone conversations, which leave no trace unless they are recorded, modern communications leave a trail in computer memories that can be detected long after the fact. That is a very important point, and I hope that nobody in this Parliament or in Canada or Quebec believes that once an email has been sent, it is over and done with. Unfortunately for them, I have bad news, because when people send an email using their computer or even their BlackBerry, there is always a trail. Their hard drives retain information about every email ever sent, and that information can be retrieved. That is where we find ourselves in a grey area.

But the Ligue des droits et libertés adds that everything we do in our everyday lives could come under police investigation. They will have access to lists of the websites we visit, emails we send and receive, credit card purchases, purchases of all kinds—clothing, books, winter gear—our outings, our movements abroad and in Canada, gas purchases, on-line and ATM banking transactions and medical information. Naturally, the list might get even longer.

We have to be prudent. I do not necessarily share all of the concerns expressed by the Ligue des droits et libertés, but they are urging us to be prudent. As parliamentarians, we have to use our judgment. We have to tell police forces—the RCMP, the Sûreté du Québec, the Ontario Provincial Police and other police services in large municipalities—that there are lines that must not be crossed once Bill C-46 is passed.

I firmly believe that one thing is for sure: police forces must have the tools they need to deal with crime in the 21st century. Yes, armed robberies and bank heists are still happening, although less frequently according to the latest statistics. We still hear about corner store hold-ups and all kinds of other assaults. But there is now a new kind of crime called cybercrime. We have been looking for ways to fight it since 1995. We have to make sure we have the tools to do that.

I listened closely to what the Ligue des droits et libertés said, and I feel that we have to be careful. The Ligue says that the bill provides little or no protection against unreasonable seizures without a warrant. The authorities will be able to obtain subscriber data even though the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act recognizes that this information is private. This is provided for in Bill C-47, but the authorities could still obtain this information. Without a warrant and on the basis of a suspicion, an officer will be able to ask a service provider to keep the contents of all your communications. It is like asking the post office to photocopy all your mail in case something should happen. I feel that people may go a bit too far sometimes, but this serves as a reminder that we must be cautious. I do not necessarily share the views of the Ligue des droits et libertés, but as politicians, we have to listen to both sides of the story.

The Ligue des droits et libertés also says that with a warrant obtained on the basis of a mere suspicion, an agent will easily be able to compel the service provider to turn over all its lists and so on. I believe that this is a bit dangerous, and we will have to address it when this bill is studied in committee. The Ligue added that with a warrant, which can be obtained on the basis of reasonable grounds to believe—less stringent conditions than for wiretapping—the content of your communications could be intercepted.

Certainly, what the Ligue des droits et libertés is saying is important. It is calling on parliamentarians to be careful when we print and pass legislation, but especially when we apply it. Once the law is passed, it may be too late to amend it. I will say one thing right now: police forces must be equipped to deal with cybercrime and 21st century crime. It is clear that crime prevention is one promising solution. The police will need to be able to prevent such crimes, and that takes equipment.

Obviously, the authorities have to try to uncover a plot before it is carried out. Once a crime has been committed, it is a little late to intervene, even if the criminals are brought to justice. In closing, if the authorities can thwart the crime before it is committed, I believe that this bill is a step in the right direction.

Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my hon. colleague. There is no doubt this bill provides police forces with additional tools. What bothers me is the question of striking a balance between basic human rights and privacy. I think we do need to give police the tools they need to arrest criminals, but I also read what the Privacy Commissioner said about this:

Privacy is a critical element of a free society and there can be no real freedom without it.

Canada is currently on a dangerous path towards a surveillance society.

This makes us all think of Big Brother. I have a question for my colleague. How can we ensure that this bill really gives police forces sufficient guidelines so that privacy and basic human rights are respected?

Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Trois-Rivières for her question.

I will not beat around the bush. This will probably be the greatest challenge facing the committee that examines this bill, that is, trying to set guidelines to balance individual rights and the rights of society, and indicating how far police forces should go. Indeed, as the Supreme Court put it so well, the police cannot go on a fishing expedition. They cannot intercept just anything or do anything they want under the pretext that possibly, perhaps, something might be happening. No, guidelines are needed.

As legislators, we definitely must tell police forces that they cannot cross certain lines. I agree with Ms. Stoddart that the greatest challenge with respect to this bill will definitely lie in its implementation. We will probably need detailed definitions of the tools that will be available to the police to prevent crime. Indeed, with this bill, police will go from being involved in arrests, and therefore the punishment of crime—since police generally become involved after the crime is committed—to the prevention of offences about to be committed, since police will be able to intervene before the crime is committed. That is what cybercrime is all about. That will be the challenge.

Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to my colleague's speech. If memory serves me correctly, in 1948, George Orwell wrote the book 1984. He wrote about a society that is quite similar to the one the Conservative government wants to give us. In 1958 or 1959, Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged, which also described a similar society. Yann Martel, a very prolific Quebec writer, has been sending books to the Prime Minister and the 38th book he sent was a book by Ayn Rand.

Does my colleague not think that our Prime Minister and the government should learn from the past, from what already exists, instead of trying to get us to pass bills on law and order quickly without taking into consideration everything that might happen as a result of these bills, all the consequences these bills might have on society, on all individuals and on all human beings?