House of Commons Hansard #102 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was spam.

Topics

Lucky Moose Bill
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present to Parliament a petition signed by many hard-working store owners, their employees, shoppers and ordinary Canadians in support of my private member's bill called the “Lucky Moose bill” to ensure that hard-working store owners are not punished as they try to protect their property.

The petitioners are asking for action either from the Prime Minister or the Minister of Justice to ensure the Criminal Code is amended. The petition includes 10,000 names that were signed online in support of taking action so hard-working store owners will not be punished when they try to protect their property.

G20 Summit
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is from many downtown residents, restaurant owners and business owners who want to ensure there is compensation to downtown Toronto businesses for the damages caused by the G20 summit.

They note that there was significant property damage, that 93% of the businesses lost profit and that some workers lost a week of wages because the business had to close or, of those that were open, hardly anyone showed up to shop or eat.

The petitioners are asking the Government of Canada to make allowance for the compensation of local residents and businesses for any loss of profit or property damage caused due to the G20 summit.

Student Loans
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present a petition to the House of Commons on student loan fairness.

Residents of Canada have a number of problems with the student loan program and there is chronic federal underfunding. They ask that Canada's student loan system be made fairer, clearer and certainly more representative and responsive.

This petition calls upon a federal needs based grant system for all Canadian student loans. It asks for a lowering of the federal student loan interest rate, that a student loan ombudsperson be created and that there be a lifetime limit on loans so that there is a delayed period of at least six months after the completion of full-time studies, including doctoral programs and medical residency.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 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

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Royal Recommendation--Bill C-574
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

November 23rd, 2010 / 10:10 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 rise today on a point of order regarding Bill C-574, An Act to promote and strengthen the Canadian retirement income system.

Bill C-574 proposes to create a new bill of rights for a retirement income system that would promote the goals of adequacy, transparency, affordability, equity, flexibility, security and accessibility for all Canadians.

Clause 13 of the bill would require the Minister of Justice to examine every bill and regulation to ascertain whether any of the provisions violate, among other things, an individual's right to accumulate sufficient pension income to provide for a lifestyle in retirement that the individual considers adequate, an individual's right to determine how and when to accumulate pension income, and an individual's entitlement to receive investment advice from an advisor free of conflict of interest.

Section 4.1 of the Department of Justice Act provides that the Minister of Justice must examine every bill and regulation in light of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Section 3 of the Canadian Bill of Rights states that the Minister of Justice shall examine every bill and regulation to ascertain whether any provisions thereof are inconsistent with this act.

Bill C-574 would impose an additional obligation on the Minister of Justice that is not currently authorized by statute. In particular, the new functions envisioned in clause 13 of the bill would require actuarial, financial and economic expertise well beyond the current mandate and activities of the Minister of Justice and the Department of Justice.

Precedents indicate that imposing new obligations not provided for in statute requires a new royal recommendation. On page 834 of the second edition of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice states:

A royal recommendation not only fixes the allowable charge, but also its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications. For this reason, a royal recommendation is required not only in the case where money is being appropriated, but also in the case where the authorization to spend for a specific purpose is significantly altered.

On October 20, 2006, the Speaker ruled, in the case of Bill C-286, An Act to amend the Witness Protection Program Act, that Bill C-286:

...extends the application of the program...that does not currently exist under the witness protection program. In doing so, the bill proposes to carry out an entirely new function. .... New functions or activities must be accompanied by a new royal recommendation.

On June 13, 2005, the Speaker ruled on Bill C-280, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act, that:

...clause 2 significantly alters the duties of the EI Commission to enable new or different spending of public funds by the commission for a new purpose....

On September 20, 2006, the Speaker ruled in the case of Bill C-257, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, that:

...the provisions in Bill C-257 which relate to the designation of investigators by the minister do not constitute an authorization for new spending for a distinct purpose. The functions which are already being performed by inspectors would appear to be reasonably similar to the functions envisaged by Bill C-257.

I submit that this last precedent does not apply to Bill C-574 as the functions set out in clause 13 of the bill would significantly alter the functions of the Minister of Justice and the Department of Justice. That is because the new functions in Bill C-574 would require actuarial, financial and economic expertise well beyond the mandate and current activities of the Minister of Justice and the Department of Justice.

In conclusion, the additional functions for the Minister of Justice and the Department of Justice proposed in clause 13 of Bill C-574 are not currently authorized in statute. The bill, therefore, should be accompanied by a royal recommendation.

Royal Recommendation--Bill C-574
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, first of all the presumption here and the references to Bills C-286, C-250 and C-257 all are with respect to the same statement about a new function and beyond the mandate.

However, I would like to submit that the Minister of Justice already has responsibilities in the area that C-574 deals with. To discharge that responsibility, it is clear that the minister would have to get information from resources such as actuaries and other experts in the area.

It is not incumbent on the Minister of Justice himself to have all of those particular levels of expertise within his own department to fully discharge his responsibilities. There is a reliance obviously on the resources of the Government of Canada, available to all ministers.

In this regard, before any minister of justice would opine on any matter related to the retirement income system, it is clear that the retirement income itself is not within the jurisdiction of the Minister of Justice.

However, there is a due diligence and a due care requirement on behalf of the Minister of Justice to ensure that in giving legal opinions that he or she also has the important information with regard to the fundamentals and the dimensions.

This argument about “significantly alters” is a qualitative assessment by the hon. parliamentary secretary, but the argument does not, in my view, sustain the suggestion that a royal recommendation is required, most simply because in this particular case the Minister of Justice, in fact, has a responsibility with regard to opining on Bill C-574 on the Canadian retirement income system and must engage these kinds of resources in the normal course of his work to do his job in a proper fashion with due diligence.

Therefore, I submit that, since the Clerk of the House normally advises a member about the likelihood of a royal recommendation being required on a bill, and the House has extensive resources to make such an assessment, it is clear that the question about extending the mandate beyond what the minister may have has already been considered. It is one of the fundamental positions.

I would submit that the expertise within the Clerk of the House's office has taken that decision and not made that recommendation, and indeed the Chair has not given that notice of a likelihood of a royal recommendation.

Royal Recommendation--Bill C-574
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the same point, I want to thank the hon. member for his comments on these issues, but Bill C-574 is very much a statement of principle.

As the mover of the motion, I was very careful to ensure that it did not require a royal recommendation. I understand the interpretation of clause 13, but I can say that I reviewed that because I did not want it to be ruled out of order and require a royal recommendation.

It is very much a statement of principle. It does not require actuaries to come forth with an extended report. It is an issue of setting down principles. It is a motherhood issue that establishes the principles of a bill that would protect pensioners, protect Canadians and ensure that all Canadians have the right to have a pension system.

Royal Recommendation--Bill C-574
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank hon. members for their submissions on this point, and I will take the matter under advisement and review the issue before I come back to the House.

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I stand today in third reading to speak about Bill C-28. I was involved as a member of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology on the bill, which deals with a very important matter. It was known as Bill C-27 at the time and has now progressed to being Bill C-28, and it is very encouraging to see that we are now at third reading.

First of all, I would like to stress that we must act quickly to resolve the massive problem of unsolicited electronic messages, more commonly known as “spam”.

Let us go back to 2003, when the problem was not nearly as bad as it is now. A report at the time concluded that businesses spent $27 billion on expenses related to the IT personnel needed to deal with this plague.

Who of us in this chamber have not experienced that maddening moment when we have opened up our emails and discovered that a fairly large number were unsolicited, were trying to interest us in something we were really not interested in, were trying to sell us something? Who of us have not experienced the time it has taken to get rid of these unsolicited emails? Of course many of us have now had to purchase software to try to control so-called spam, and this is adding to our annoyance with the whole thing. Even today, the ingeniousness of some people still manages to circumvent even the best spam software, and we still occasionally receive spam messages even with that best software.

Spam represents, according to the experts, 60% to 80% of all email traffic around the world. Clearly this situation is a major challenge for consumers, businesses, governments and Internet service providers. Yet the issue at hand is not limited to spam and, therefore, legislation must also remedy the use of false or misleading statements that disguise the origins or true intent of the email, the installation of unauthorized programs and the unauthorized collection of personal information or email addresses.

Whether spam comes in the form of unsolicited emails, viruses hidden in attachments—which is often the case—phishing, misrepresentations or the use of fraudulent websites, the government must take action to ensure that Canada does not fall behind.

How can we be the only G8 country and one of only four OECD countries that has not introduced legislation on spam? No one can deny the magnitude of this problem that goes beyond the simple annoyance of receiving unsolicited emails.

This practice also has huge costs for users in terms of the cost of receiving emails and text messages, as well as in terms of the users' storage capacities. Furthermore, this interferes with computer systems, which can have consequences on businesses, governments and individuals. When spam floods and completely paralyzes systems, these practices have more serious effects than anyone could imagine on the way society functions.

We often do not realize how vulnerable we are, which is why we must act quickly. In this case, there is no point reminding members that when the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament at the beginning of the year, he ruined our chance to act quickly.

The Liberal Party of Canada has not only always been concerned by this serious problem but has been very proactive on this matter. In fact the Liberal government established an anti-spam task force in May 2004 that held public consultations and round tables with key industry stakeholders. This Liberal initiative led to the 2005 anti-spam action plan for Canada, which was a call to action.

The plan comprised specific recommendations, requiring the implementation of legislative measures that: prohibit the sending of unsolicited commercial electronic messages; prohibit the use of false or misleading statements that disguise the origins or true intent of the email; prohibit the installation of unauthorized programs; and prohibit the unauthorized collection of personal information or email addresses.

Bill C-28 and the initiatives announced by the Conservative government followed through on the recommendations made by the Liberal anti-spam task force of 2005. However, it is worth mentioning that Bill C-27, as originally submitted by the current government, contained a number of flaws. Fortunately, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology did outstanding work and proposed recommendations that significantly improved the bill. With these amendments and with further changes recently proposed in Bill C-28, we believe the bill is achieving its main objectives.

Bill C-28 introduces legislation to deploy most of our recommendations, and therefore we are pleased to say that the government has finally decided to act on the recommendations brought forth by our task force. This said, care must taken and we will continue to monitor the legislation closely to ensure that it does not stifle legitimate electronic commerce in Canada. It is important to emphasize that the fight against spam is much more than just legislation.

The industry committee also discussed how important it is that the government take responsibility for a cohesive approach once Bill C-28 is passed. What good is this law if the authorities overseeing it cannot take action because they lack resources? What specifications will be given to the various entities that will enforce and implement the law?

The minister must submit a comprehensive enforcement plan outlining the roles of these entities, such as the CRTC, the Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. The fact is that with this many stakeholders, Industry Canada's role as coordinator will be extremely important. We must give this department the proper tools, both from a human resources and an organizational perspective.

In short, it is essential that there be a coordinated approach involving industry partners, affected organizations and concerned stakeholders in order to implement this bill, and it is in this context that the government needs to take action. It needs to provide the mechanisms to ensure that this legislation is enforced effectively. Enforcing this type of law is complex. It needs to be reviewed periodically so that we, as legislators, can cover all eventualities, such as technological advances.

I should also point it that it is becoming essential and urgent to coordinate our legislation with various countries and engage with the international community in order to harmonize measures to achieve agreed-upon objectives. Canada must now take its place and become a leader in this area.

The Liberal task force also recommended that resources be put toward co-ordinated enforcement of the law, since we all know that legislation will only go as far as the capacity and willingness to enforce the law. Hence it is of the utmost importance that the government put appropriate resources into enforcement, in its determination to work with other nations to stamp out spam.

It is also imperative that the government dedicate resources to clearly establish codes of practice. The Liberal Party of Canada will, without fail, be on task to assure that these elements are not forgotten as the process moves forward.

I am confident that we are on the right track. The members of the Liberal Party will continue to work to ensure that this bill is in line with the expectations of the people.

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, the research has estimated that spam costs the worldwide economy about $130 billion. This is not a recent number. This is a number that has been building up over time.

If we take that together with the fact that we are the only G8 country that does not have this legislation, and one of only four OECD countries, it begs the question of where the government's priorities are. When we think of the cost of just spam alone, and if we add all of the other abuses that affect productivity, and certainly therefore the cost to persons, business, and the Government of Canada, we have to question the minister's statement when he says that in developing this particular bill, “we have been able to incorporate the best practices of other countries that have launched similar efforts”.

If that is the case, why was Bill C-27, the predecessor to this bill, not based on the good practices of all these other countries? Does it not show that the government in fact was not really serious about making good laws and wise decisions?

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned in my presentation, it was the Liberal Party in 2004 that initiated the process of looking at the very serious problem of spam. As my hon. colleague mentioned, this problem has huge cost implications for the entire planet. It is rather surprising that it has taken five years for this bill, which initially was Bill C-27, to reach third reading.

It is clear as well that Canada has not been ahead of the pack in taking the initiative to bring forward this bill. We have been a laggard on this issue. Canada is the last country in the G8 to bring forward a bill like this one. We are among only four OECD countries that do not yet have legislation on spam. The current government has been in power for almost five years and it has not given the issue of spam, with its huge cost implications, the necessary priority it should have been given.

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I would like to remind the member that we are not out of the woods yet because there is always the potential for the Prime Minister to prorogue Parliament or call an election and we would be back to square one.

The violations under this bill are not criminal offences. Members are probably aware of the recent case in which Facebook won a judgment against a Canadian spammer for $1 billion. The spammer declared bankruptcy and that was the end of the problem. The spammer received a lot of publicity in the process.

There are only fines and no criminal offences under this bill. I would therefore like the member's thoughts on what has transpired with the recent Facebook case in light of what is in this bill.