House of Commons Hansard #87 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

A Canadian child at the time.

The government has failed to repatriate many Canadians convicted of crimes abroad. It wants to make it easier to refuse entrance to those Canadians to serve their sentence in Canada. Never before in my lifetime have I seen a time when the Canadian government is less interested in standing up for Canadians and protecting their rights on the world stage. This bill is further evidence of that.

This bill has been described as nothing more than a data mining exercise for U.S. security institutions to get information rapaciously about any person in the world so Americans can think they are secure. However, there are other principles besides security in this world. There is privacy, liberty, freedom, respect and sovereignty. I would commend the government to pay attention to these principles as well.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, in the course of this debate, we have heard quite a bit about the fact that rules are already in place that help to provide for the security of Canadian citizens. According to this bill, we would be taking this one step forward, whether it is the creation of a no-fly list or whether it is providing security information to other countries, and, invariably, the United States of America keeps coming up as one of the places that could use or possibly abuse this information. We juxtapose that with personal liberties and the fact that we respect privacy in this country and, I gather from my colleague, this bill would truly violate those liberties that we hold so dear.

With the current rules in place, how would this bill make it that much more insulting? I am not saying that I do not disagree with that but would the member just bare down the details of the bill on how this would be an insult to our personal liberties and freedoms?

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is obvious from a reading of the bill itself. It requires Canadian airlines, which currently control information about their passengers, to send information to the United States about every passenger, whether or not the aircraft is going to land in the United States. The plane may only touch U.S. airspace.

Under the current Aeronautics Act, information about the passengers is sent to the American authorities if the plane is going to land in the United States. That is reasonable.

But requiring Canadian airlines to give passenger information to American security institutions when the plane is not even going to land in the United States may have the effect of compelling the airline to refuse to board a person because the Americans will not let the person fly over their airspace.

In effect, the American government will determine when a Canadian citizen can fly to a non-U.S. destination.

I cannot explain it any simpler than that. It is a profound violation of Canadians' mobility rights, a fundamental abdication by the Canadian government of its responsibility toward its citizens. The government has a duty to facilitate Canadians' ability to travel where they want unless there is a good reason not to do so.

This bill eviscerates the notion of responsible government as well as Canadians' rights of privacy and sovereignty. What Canada should do is say to the United States, “With respect, we will not give you information about our Canadian citizens when our citizens are not even coming to your country”.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have a practical question which I presume all Canadians would want to have answered.

What exactly is the effect of this list of information? Does this mean that the Americans can prevent a person from boarding a plane that will overfly the United States? Who is it going to apply to?

We have practical questions, complaints, and concerns from citizens. For example, if a couple shows up on a flight to Florida with their three children, and the husband has a criminal record that might be 40 years old, and the American authorities have information about the criminal record but no record of a subsequent pardon, is this man at risk of being deplaned while the children and spouse carry on? Information might be considered inconsequential in Canada but not in the U.S.

Can the member give us any assurance that this is innocuous? The member forBonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor said it would make no difference. My concern is that it makes practical differences, but we do not yet know what they are.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I can quote the Liberal transport critic, who said, “Canadian sovereignty has gone right out the window with this bill. You're going to be subject to American law”.

In answer to my hon. colleague from St. John's, the practical answer is yes. Yes, it means that a Canadian could be prevented from boarding an aircraft because of what the Department of Homeland Security says.

If a person's name matches someone on an American no-fly list, the person may be questioned or barred from that flight. Even if the person's name does not match, Homeland Security tells the airline in Canada whether or not the person can be issued a boarding pass.

Talk about an abdication of sovereignty. We are letting the Department of Homeland Security in the U.S. decide who gets to board an aircraft in Canada to fly from Canada to a country other than the United States. The consequences of this could be devastating.

Canadians cross the border every day to the United States, and we are stating to experience more risk of being denied entry to the United States because of information we know nothing of, with no mechanisms of redress.

The United States is trying to reach into Canada and control our travel to countries other than the United States. This is wrong. It is a violation of our sovereignty. It is a violation of Canadians' privacy. It is a fundamental question of Canadian sovereignty, and I would hope that the government stands up for those principles, as it likes to claim.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, for many Canadians who are unemployed because of Conservative government's actions, and who are taking a breather from hitting the streets to look for work by watching the House of Commons on CPAC today, what they have seen is a common theme.

Earlier today, the Conservatives were trying to foster the trade bill with Panama, a country that tied for the worst in the world in the laundering of drug money. The government essentially wants to give the regime in Panama a vote of confidence and allow Canadian companies and individuals to launder money in Panama.

Here it has gone one up. Clearly, the Conservative government has jumped the shark. This was the government that was supposed to be strong on privacy, strong on crime issues, and what we are seeing is that it is encouraging money laundering. Now, as my colleague, the member for Vancouver Kingsway, said earlier, it is ripping up the rule book on the Privacy Act.

This is not a long bill. This is a bill of exactly one page, but what it says should be of some concern to all Canadians who want their personal information protected.

Regarding section 4.83 of the Aeronautics Act, this bill says, “Despite section 5 of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act”, despite what currently exists, which is personal information protection and electronic document protection, it is throwing all of that out the window. Now when an aircraft leaving Canada either lands in a foreign state or flies over the foreign state, all the information that is on the passenger name record is available to the foreign state.

Let us recap. The government has thrown the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act out the window. If a person is landing in a foreign state or flying over the state going somewhere else, it is open season on that person's information.

It is hard to believe how irresponsible the government is becoming. It is not just the corruption allegations that we are hearing daily. It is not just the incredibly bloated deficit, the inability to control spending, the fake lake, or the inability to deliver any programs that actually improve the lives of Canadians. It has not destroyed health care yet, but it would like to if it were given the opportunity. It is not just that. It is that now it is doing things that are--

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, order. I would ask the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster to come to order when the Speaker asks him to.

The hon. member for Wetaskiwin is rising on a point of order.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I respect the opinions of all members. We parliamentarians are allowed to speak on matters that are important to our country, to our constituents. However, a matter of relevance should be brought to question the hon. member's comments. I believe that he is speaking off the cuff in an attempt to filibuster this bill. If he could get back to the relevance of the bill before the House, that would be great.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I thank the hon. member for Wetaskiwin. I am sure the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster will keep the rules of relevance in mind as he finishes his speech.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, my comments are relevant, but it is not something Conservative members like to hear. They will be hearing it more and more, however, from the public in their ridings. When we look at the implications of Bill C-42, when we couple it with all of the other inept actions of the current government, Canadians should be really concerned about what is going to happen to their personal information.

This short bill rips up the Privacy Act. This short bill says that if we just fly over a foreign country, never mind whether we land there, all of a sudden our personal information can be passed over to the foreign state, whose laws we do not know.

Who is the current government signing this deal with? It is signing it with the United States. But it is also signing it with Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Panama. These are not countries known for their openness. In fact, Mexico rates very low on the international scale of corruption, the Dominican Republic is not a democracy, and Panama is now tied for worst in the world, according to the IRS, for laundering drug money. Yet, the Conservatives want to give the Panamanian secret service open access to Canadians' private information. That is brilliant, but not at all corresponding to what they said.

Back in 2007, the government, before it jumped ship and decided not to pay any attention to Canadians' wishes, issued a press releasing saying how strongly it opposed doing what it is doing today. It said it opposed handing over the personal information of Canadians to the U.S. It also said that the consent to give access to personal privacy records was central to Canadian privacy standards. A year later, before that first prorogation, when the government was on the ropes, it assured us that this type of program would not apply to Canadians. It said that the U.S. had said that a program of this nature would exempt countries like ours with comparable security systems.

This was in response to planted questions during question period from the government's own members.

At the time, the Minister of Transport said they were not going to go that route. The minister said, “Our government is committed to respecting the safety, security and privacy of each and every Canadian”.

Today, with Bill C-42, the government has thrown that out the window. All of its pretensions, all of its promises, like the promise to have prudent financial management, or the promise to respond to the needs of rural and northern Canadians, have been ripped up. Now we see that the commitments made in 2007, 2008, and 2009 have been ripped up and replaced by this bill, which would do the exact opposite.

What is in the passenger name record that is now being handed over to intelligence agencies in places like Panama and the Dominican Republic, simply for the act of flying over? If we want to fly over those states, the current Conservative government is saying our records are free game.

This is where it gets very interesting and very worrisome for those Canadians who value their privacy.

I know the member for Wetaskiwin will want to jump up on this, but for the government to ditch the long form census, to rip it up because of so-called privacy concerns, when it is willing to do this, is an absolute crock. It is pure hypocrisy. On the one hand, the government says it is going to rip up the long form census. On the other hand, the government says it is going to give people's personal information on the passenger records to the secret service of Panama. There is no problem at all.

For Canadians who are not aware of this, the passenger name record is a file that is created by the travel agent when the ticket is booked. This system was created by the travel industry to facilitate travel. The booking information is passed along. It is considered confidential and private. That is why in this bill the government is ripping up the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, because it is protected information now. It can contain credit card information, who a person is travelling with, where a person is staying, the person's home address and other contact information, any medical conditions the person suffers from, even what the person ate on the plane. That is the passenger name record that is protected by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, which would be ripped up by the government.

Now the government is saying that personal information would be shipped to the Dominican Republic's secret service or the Panamanian secret service for the simple act of flying over part of a country to get to somewhere else. Is that absurd and irresponsible? Absolutely, but that is what the government is purporting to do in this bill.

It will be interesting to see over the course of the next few hours whether any Conservative members are going to have the guts to stand up and try to defend this action. This is in direct contradiction to the promises they made prior to the election campaign and in direct contradiction to the promises they made subsequently, even in response to Conservative members' own questions.

Does this bill that rips up the privacy act correspond in any way to the prudent collection and protection of personal information? It does not. It would be worthwhile to take a few minutes to talk about what the government should be doing and what it has not done.

For example, the European Commission has established principles for data collection that must be observed. These principles include, first, a purpose limitation. Private personal information has to be processed for a specific purpose and subsequently used or further communicated only in so far as it is not incompatible with the purpose of the transfer, in other words, one purpose. That is not contained in this bill in any way.

Second is the information quality and proportionality principle. The information should be accurate and kept up to date. The information should be adequate, relevant, and not excessive in relation to the purposes for which it is transferred and further processed.

That is not in this bill at all. There are no safeguards at all. There is one paragraph on ripping up the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act with respect to air travellers, but there is nothing that replaces or puts into place any protections subsequent to that.

Third is the transparency principle. Individuals should be provided with information as to the purpose of the processing and the identity of those in control of the information in the third country.

This bill does nothing of the sort. It is transferred wholesale and the individual would not even be aware that if he or she flew over Panama his or her personal credit card information may be given to the Panamanian secret service.

Fourth is the security principle. Technical and organizational security measures have to be taken by those in control of the information appropriate to the risk presented by the processing.

Again, there is not a single word of protection and security of that information in this bill.

Fifth is the right to access rectification and opposition principle. The subject of the information should have the right to obtain a copy of all the information relating to him or her that is processed and a right of rectification of the information that is inaccurate.

There again, there is not a single word regarding that European Commission principle on data transfer and personal information in the bill.

Sixth is the restriction on outward transfers. Transfers of personal information to further countries should be permitted only where the second country is also subject to the same rules as the country originally receiving the information. That is perhaps the most important.

Here we have a bill that rips up protections offered to Canadians and does not provide any of the principles that are best practices worldwide. I mentioned the European Commission. These are best practices in any industrialized first country. Yet the transfers of the personal information is given over to the Panamanian government, or to the Panamanian secret service, or to the Dominican Republic and its secret service. As we know, that country is not a democracy and yet it is included in this bill and there are no protections at all.

All six of the principles of personal information protection, security and data management are violated in the bill. It is not as if the Conservatives missed by a few words, that they almost got it right, that they really tried to protect Canadians' personal privacy and just missed one of those principles because they did it too quickly, as they do with many of their crime bills on the back of a napkin. They mess up and then the bill goes to committee and the member for Windsor—Tecumseh endeavours to fix the errors. Sometimes we are able to fix them, but sometimes the Conservatives do not co-operate. But we are not talking about missing it by an inch, or a foot, or a metre, we are talking about missing it by a country mile. The Conservatives did not include a single one of the six principles of personal information protection, not a single one. They ripped up the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and did not replace it with anything. It is open season.

If people fly over Panama, their information is gone and there is not a single element of protection in this two clause bill. The Conservatives did not seem to understand the problem, except when we go back to the commitments made over the last three years. They obviously understood in 2007 when they committed not to do this. They obviously understood in 2008 and 2009 when they said they would not do this. Now it is 2010 and they toss this bomb on the floor of the House of Commons for all Canadians who are concerned about their personal information being spread far and wide and there is not even an explanation.

The Conservatives have not stood up in the House and tried to defend or explain this bill. Maybe it is because the Prime Minister's Office has not issued its one page of speaking notes. Still, one has to wonder when they do something so irresponsibly, not ineptly in this case, because they have not responded to any of the data management protection, any of the personal information protection. They have not responded at all. They have just acted as if people can hand over their credit card information and it is okay if a Panamanian secret service agent has it. It is no problem at all, say the Conservatives.

In this corner of the House we tend to review legislation very critically. We go through it word by word. In this corner of the House we are not standing for that kind of irresponsible behaviour.

There is a wide range of people who have spoken against the bill and have raised concerns about it. I want to mention two.

Roch Tassé of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group said about this bill that the Americans will have a veto on every passenger who gets on a plane in Canada even if they passengers are not going to set foot on American soil. Mr. Tassé asked what would happen if Canada invited the ambassador from a country such as Cuba, if we now have to share that personal information even if the plane is just flying over the United States. What could the consequences be?

More important, the Air Transport Association of Canada has said:

The submission of Canadian passengers' details by Canadian airlines violates Canada's laws on the protection of personal information and electronic documents, as well as laws on aeronautics.

That is why we are seeing this bill today. Because it violates Canada's laws, the government through some subterfuge is trying to get this through the House of Commons hoping that opposition members will not be concerned about what is a wholesale handover of Canadians' personal information.

In this corner of the House, NDP members always stand up for ordinary Canadian families. We are the ones who stand up. We are the ones who have read through this document. We are saying that this is irresponsible, inappropriate and we are not going to stand for it.

The fact is that the government has put forward a bill that removes personal information protection, removes that key component and yet in no way replaces it with any of the principles of data management, of personal information protection. The fact that the government is doing this is highly irresponsible. It is something that the NDP will oppose.

As our critic, the member for Western Arctic, has said so eloquently in this House, we are not going to allow information, such as credit card information, whom people are travelling with, where they are staying, their home and other contact information, medical conditions, even such details as what people ate on the plane to be dispatched wholesale, left, right and centre, without any due regard to protection of personal privacy or protection of personal information. We are simply not going to stand for that.

Finally, I am going to cite a comment from a United Kingdom House of Lords' European Union Select Committee report on the passenger name record:

We believe that the use of PNR data for general law enforcement purposes...is undesirable and unacceptable.

We have had comment after comment from people who are concerned about protection of privacy rights and people who are concerned about personal information protection. We have had very eloquent comments from a number of members of Parliament, particularly from this caucus. There has been a very strong reaction. What the government should be doing with this bill is it should be taking a step back. This is a violation of its promise and commitment to Canadians, and it should withdraw this bill. We certainly hope it will do that having heard the comments about this atrocious bit of legislation.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

There will be 10 minutes for questions and comments consequent on the hon. member's speech when debate resumes on this bill.

Auditor General of Canada
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I have the honour to lay upon the table the fall 2010 report of the Auditor General of Canada.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(g), this document is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

A Capital Experience
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Barry Devolin Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is a special group of students here today. They are participating in a program I call “A Capital Experience”, where student leaders from each of the seven high schools in my riding come to Ottawa for three days each year to learn about career opportunities in public life.

They have visited Parliament, the Embassy of South Korea, Amnesty International, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Press Gallery and the University of Ottawa.

I wish to thank those who shared their time with these students and thank the businesses and service clubs who sponsored them.

Today I welcome to Parliament: Alex Jebson and Rebekah Lindensmith from Brock; Keagan Comber and Kelsey Priestman from Crestwood; Madison Frank and Devon Jackson from Fenelon Falls; Hayley Sullivan from Haliburton; Dan Lowe and Hayley Preston from I.E. Weldon; Emma Whyte and Brandon Remmelgas from L.C.V.I.; Paige Cleary and Paige Cooke from St. Thomas Aquinas; and Haley Roter from Apsley.

I ask my colleagues to join me in wishing these young people all the best as they make decisions regarding their future careers.

Good Samaritan Award
Statements By Members

October 26th, 2010 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize my constituent, Rebecca Vincent, who is a recipient of the Richmond Hill Good Samaritan Award for her outstanding leadership in our community.

A Girl Guides of Canada leader with the 1st York South Rangers, Rebecca has tirelessly dedicated her time to helping young women learn new skills, build friendships and gain leadership qualities.

Additionally, Rebecca is also known for her website, Becky's Guiding Resource Centre, which provides camping tips and team-building exercises for Girl Guide and Boy Scout units across the country.

A teacher with the York Region District School Board, Rebecca is also a camp co-ordinator at Camp Woolsey and an outdoor educator at Scanlon Creek. She is also an avid traveller who spent a year in the great Australian outback.

As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Girl Guides of Canada, I congratulate Rebecca on her involvement as a Guide and in being a role model to our young women in the community and indeed around the world.

Annette Harnois-Coutu
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise here today to congratulate Annette Harnois-Coutu, a Lanaudière woman from Saint-Thomas, in my riding of Joliette, who was named female farmer of the year at the Saturne gala on October 16, 2010. During her career, she operated a dairy and grain farm and a beef farm. She has also produced tobacco. This year her land is planted in potatoes, soy and oats.

She is a tireless worker and has devoted 30 years of her life to the farm union movement, including 15 years as president of the Fédération de l'Union des producteurs agricoles de Lanaudière. She has also served as president of the Lanaudière bio-food development board and the Ferme-école Desjardins, as well as vice-president of the Conférence des élus. Ms. Harnois-Coutu has recently stepped down as president and will be honoured next month.

On behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, I warmly congratulate this remarkable woman.