House of Commons Hansard #63 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

Topics

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have another question for the member on the whole area of offences. We already have indicated that the bill has been in progress for about five years. There is no reference to Twitter in the bill, for example. The technology is ahead of any government, but it is miles ahead of the Conservative government.

In terms of offences under the bill, we are looking at individual offences of $1,000 for a first-time offence, $5,000 for a second-time offence and $10,000 for a third or more offence or six months in jail. When we get to the corporate side of it, we are looking at $10,000 for a first offence, $50,000 for a second offence and $100,000 for three or more offences. As I indicated before, the child pornography sites, I believe, are being run by criminal organizations.

Is this level of fines really nothing more than just the cost of doing business for people like criminal organizations?

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

It is obvious to me that my colleague is right. We should be able to prosecute the individuals who are hiding behind these networks and these child pornography sites. I fully agree with the hon. member that we should sue these individuals.

The problem is very simple: the government does not have the means to fulfill its ambitions. This means it is going to have to find those means. If we support a legislation such as Bill C-22—which, in my opinion, is a certainty—we must absolutely be able to implement it, so that it does not remain an empty shell, as is too often the case with bills that do not achieve anything. We will have to find those means, and I think we should begin looking for them now, since we know that we are going to adopt this legislation.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, being very close to my colleague for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, I know that he did not have time before to answer a question. I will give him the time to answer the question.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have answered so many questions that I would have liked my colleague for Hochelaga to indicate which one, although I have an idea.

What I wanted to say earlier is that the government has to stop holding press conferences to give press conferences. It has to stop holding press conferences to tell us that it is fighting crime and taking care of victims. With regard to the matter before us, Bill C-22, the House is clear and unanimous. Unless I am told otherwise, the last I heard it was unanimous: everyone here is against child pornography.

Therefore, the government must stop holding press conferences and start taking action. That is what we are debating. We have to provide the means to implement this bill as well as others. Barely one hour ago, we were discussing Bill S-2. How are they going to implement Bill S-2 if they do not provide police forces with the money to carry out their responsibilities when these bills are passed?

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I was preparing to speak, I pulled my speech from the last time this bill was before the House.

It is one of a number of bills that the government has been grossly incompetent in dealing with. I say that from two vantage points. This is one of the bills that died on the order paper because of the prorogation decision by the Prime Minister in late December 2009.

It also reflects the inability of the government to deal seriously with major crime issues. It is much more concerned about using it for blatant political purposes than it is for dealing with crimes that affect a good number of Canadians, and in this case children in particular. It is much more concerned about maneuvering and manipulating the political system to its advantage, as it did with the prorogation in December, than actually dealing with the problem and the crime, and dealing with it effectively.

On top of that, in spite of all of the claims of getting tough on crime that the government makes, this issue has been before Parliament since even before it was government, but it has now been government for four years. There have been two elections. This is an identification, however, that this problem with regard to child pornography dispersed electronically, in particular, has existed for quite some time.

The government cannot claim ignorance of the reality. It certainly cannot claim to a significant degree either an unwillingness or an incapacity to deal with it and certainly to deal with it in a timely fashion.

We saw this bill before. It is identical to the one that was here before prorogation. It was Bill C-58 at that time and it is now Bill C-22. It deals with the issue of imposing a mandatory responsibility on the part of Internet service providers and other companies that provide services to the Internet, that in effect make the Internet function.

It requires both individuals and corporations, and it will be almost all corporations, to report incidents of child pornography on the programs and hardware equipment that they identify.

Before I go to more of the specifics, I want to say two things. One, as I said earlier, this bill has been required for some time. I recall in the justice committee back in 2004-05, the issue was before us. We heard some very interesting evidence at that time from our police forces and some of our prosecutors about the refusal on the part of some of these providers, private company providers, to co-operate with the police during the course of an active investigation.

It was with a good deal of anger from all members of the committee that we responded to those facts. What has happened since then is a significant increase in co-operation, in part because of the pressure by the police and the prosecutors but also by the justice committee in terms of talking to some of the major service providers in the country. So they have become more co-operative.

However, it is quite clear that they have not all done that and they have not all fully co-operated, and that they have not gone out of their way to identify sources of child pornography within their system or network and to report those.

I have to say a bit in their defence. It was not clear how much they could divulge without exposing themselves to civil lawsuits around breaches of rights of privacy.

The bill addresses some of that. One of the concerns I have is whether it is clear enough and broadly scoped enough to provide that protection. However we knew about that in 2004-2005. It was very clear what the problem was.

The other point I want to make before moving into the bill specifically is that this issue of protecting our children by imposing a responsibility on the part of adults, in particular professionals, is not new to our law. It is, I believe, the first time we will do it in the Criminal Code, but we have imposed this responsibility at the provincial level for child abuse for over 30 and almost 40 years now. We started back then in the late sixties and early seventies.

We began imposing on doctors, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, teachers, and a number of groups who have extensive interaction with children in their professional lives, the responsibility that if they determine that the child has been a victim of child abuse that has to be reported either to the children's services agencies that are responsible for child protection in the region or to the police.

That legal principle of doing that is not new. In fact, as I said, it is almost four decades old in Canada at various provincial government levels. However, it will be the first time that we will do it in the Criminal Code at the federal level.

I know my colleague from Manitoba keeps making this point, but we as parliamentarians are constantly having to catch up with new electronic developments and new technological developments. This is certainly a classic example of the law running well behind what has become a major tool for purveyors of child pornography to use to send that child pornography all the way around the world.

Child pornography has been with us forever. We can find it going back into the Egyptian period, the Roman period, and further into Asia during some of those civilizations. It shows up in some of the paintings and sculptures that were created during those periods of time. Therefore, we know it has existed for a long time.

What has happened because of the Internet, because of that technological development, is the ability to spread the child pornography that is created primarily in eastern Europe and in Asia, because most of the sources are from there. The ability on the part of those organized crime syndicates to get that out across the globe has proliferated to the nth degree. I do not think we know how much more is getting out as compared to what was being processed prior to computers and certainly prior to the Internet.

That is the factual reality that we have known about, at least for the last half decade in terms of its extensive proliferation, and our police forces and prosecutors have known about it for at least another five years before that.

The bill is way overdue. What it does do is impose upon the operators of the network a very specific responsibility that if they identify it, and I want to be clear on that, if they identify it or if it comes to their attention, they have to report that to an agency that will be established under this legislation.

In that regard, it immediately begs the question of whether the government will provide the necessary resources for that agency to exist in an effective and efficient manner.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

That is unlikely given its history.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

As my colleague from Winnipeg is saying, given the history of the government being prepared to spend hundreds of millions and billions of dollars to incarcerate people, it is much less willing to spend money on prevention.

That is what we are talking about. The identification of the purveyors of this pornography, if we can identify them, will prevent a great deal of crime.

The other point I would make in this regard, and I think the government really has a hard time understanding this, because I do not think the Conservatives have the intellectual capacity to gather it, is--

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

An hon. member

Speak very slowly.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Speak slowly. Is that the advice? I will slow down my speech.

The Conservatives are really strong on deterrence. That for them means punishment. It means beating people into submission by incarcerating them for life. I am sure that the majority of the Conservative caucus members, if they had the ability to do it, would bring back the death penalty as well, because they think of deterrence that way.

The approach in this bill is a much more effective deterrent. It is a deterrent to organized crime. Deterrence rarely works, certainly not in crimes of passion or in crimes to our youth. Deterrence just does not work. There is no evidence to the contrary. All of the evidence we have shows that deterrence does not work in those circumstances. However, making an effective tool available to our police so that they can get to the purveyors of child pornography is a very effective deterrence tool.

I do not think that the Conservatives have the ability to comprehend this fact, but every study we have ever done, and I learned this in law school and repeatedly in my professional practice as a lawyer, shows that we deter crime by convincing those people in our society who contemplate committing a crime that they will be caught. This bill is an effective tool in sending the message that if people put this stuff on networks across the globe, we are going to catch them, and we will deal with them under the rest of the sections in the Criminal Code. This bill is an effective tool from that perspective.

We are supportive of this legislation. However, I think that the government threw it together rapidly, when it was Bill C-58.

I have asked some of these questions before, but I have not received satisfactory answers.

The bill definitely needs to go to committee so that we can take a look at it and have some people in from the industry, the Department of Justice, and the police to tell us whether in some respects it goes far enough. There may be some overreach, but in this case, as opposed to most crime bills we get from the government, it may not go far enough.

I ask people to look in particular at the penalties. A constant problem we have with the government is that it does not trust our judiciary. If convicted of not reporting, the maximum fine on the first offence, for individuals, is $1,000. I believe that the fine is $10,000 for corporations. These are very small amounts of money, given the individuals and the kind of revenue they generate from their operations. That is all the judge can impose. That is the maximum fine a judge can impose.

The situation that immediately jumped to my mind, and I am not sure why the government did not catch this, was this: What if over several months or several years there has been a whole series of reports to a company about child pornography on its system, and the company has not reported it? What is going to happen in the courts is that the company is going to be convicted for all of them all at once. The maximum fine in that situation would be $1,000. The individual who may have breached his or her responsibility under this bill one time would also be exposed to the maximum fine.

What this comes down to is that the government does not trust judges to look at that situation and say that this was one time on the part of this company, but on the part of that company, it was the 10th, 15th or 20th time people complained and pointed out that child pornography was on the network it controlled, and it had not reported it. That company would also get that $1,000 fine or that $10,000 fine.

Clearly, it is not a proper approach. If it were left to the judiciary, they could assess the situation once the convictions had been entered and could determine whether there would be a much more substantial fine for a company that continually breached its responsibility under the legislation as opposed to the individual or company that did it only once. That is one problem with the bill.

A couple of other provisions give me cause for concern. There is a provision in the bill that requires the individual or company that has the material to keep it for a maximum of 21 days. Knowing the workload we have imposed upon our police and prosecutors, that period of time seems tremendously short. The only way they can be required to keep it for more than 21 days is if the prosecutor goes to court to get a judicial order requiring them to keep it until further order. That process would require our police and prosecutors, in fewer than 21 days, to get the material together and get a court date. It is a very short period of time for them to function properly and make sure that the material or data is kept so that an effective prosecution can be pursued.

I do not know where they came up with 21 days. It seems to be totally out of keeping with the practicalities our police and prosecutors face in doing their jobs. I believe that we will have to take a look at that. As I say, they have not been flexible enough to look at this situation and say that this is just not adequate. I do not know whether they consulted with police and prosecutors. However, I think that anybody I would have talked to would have said that it is simply not a long enough period of time for the data to be held.

I just want to cover one more point, and that is the issue that in the past has caused companies and individuals not to co-operate. Some provisions in here, in several sections, deal with the right of corporations and individuals who identify this material, this child pornography, to report it without being sued. I have to say that I am questioning whether these provisions are adequate.

There are three provisions in clauses 8, 9, and 10 that in my mind raise doubts as to whether the bill goes far enough to protect them. These are individuals or corporations that are being responsible. They are reporting. However, they may step back and ask if they are going to be sued. Are they going to hesitate? It is very important that they do that reporting as soon as they possibly can so that an investigation can be carried out. The material can be saved, but taken off the Internet, and the police can be given the opportunity to chase back through that whole network system, which oftentimes includes a large number of providers.

We have heard from the police that they have had cases when they went through 25 to 50 service providers before they found the source. That is, of course, where we want to go. The sources, with very few exceptions, are international sources. They are not Canadian sources. It is very important that once they have the information, the service providers provide it. What we have to do is be very clear with them that they have absolute immunity from civil suits or prosecution under other legislation if they provide the material in a timely fashion.

We have to look at that. When it goes to committee, it will be one of the areas we look at.

Citizenship and Immigration
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, we all appreciate the need to improve Canada's immigration system. We need a fair and balanced system to help those who truly need our protection and to protect those who are at risk of being abused by crooked consultants. We must also protect Canadian taxpayers from those who would abuse the system by crawling through loopholes.

Canada is a land of immigrants, and whether we were born here, flew here, drove here, or sailed here, I know that all members of the House want to make Canada a better place for our children and grandchildren. Therefore, it makes me extremely proud that all sides are working together to reach consensus on such a sensitive matter.

On behalf of the constituents of Calgary Northeast and future new Canadians, I ask all members to rise with me to thank and congratulate the hard-working minister and the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration for working together.

Day of Conscience
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, for 21 days, beginning on June 17, 1940, Portugal's consul general in the French city of Bordeaux issued visas to over 30,000 refugees fleeing the Nazis, in defiance of his own government's orders and at great personal sacrifice. His courage and commitment to conscience saved those who would have otherwise perished and gave life to their descendants who today live in all corners of the world.

When asked about his decision, he would answer, “I would rather stand with God against man than stand with man against God”. In Israel, Aristides de Sousa Mendes is known by the revered title, “Righteous Gentile”.

The same courage and commitment was shown by the Brazilian diplomat Luiz Martins de Sousa Dantas.

I encourage all parliamentarians to recognize this devotion to conscience by supporting my motion to designate June 17 each year a day of conscience, consistent with the international efforts of Joao Crisostomo.

Denise Tremblay
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale has given the Colette-Breton award to Denise Tremblay, the general director of La Séjournelle women's shelter in Shawinigan, for her extraordinary contribution in the area of domestic violence. Ms. Tremblay is an exceptional woman who has been the director of La Séjournelle for 26 years, and decided to dedicate her life to women's issues, at both the regional and national level.

This forward-thinking and visionary woman initiated a pilot project called Carrefour Sécurité en violence conjugale. Convinced that shelters could not single-handedly ensure the safety of all women who are victims of domestic violence, she proposed partnerships within the legal system, which has brought about significant advances in preventing assault and homicide. Now that is what I call a real model for effective crime prevention.

Congratulations, Ms. Tremblay we thank her for her willingness to give women an empowering experience that gives them the confidence to use their collective strength to change the world and make things better for all human beings.

On to Ottawa Trek
Statements By Members

June 15th, 2010 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, on the 75th anniversary of the historic “On to Ottawa Trek”, I am proud to welcome eight modern day homelessness trekkers from my riding of Vancouver East, who are here in Ottawa.

Am Johal, Diana Hart, Al Mitchell, Georges Maltais, Shawn Millar, David Murray, John Richardson and Garvin Snider left Vancouver on June 6 to re-enact the 1935 workers' protest against poor wages and abysmal working conditions in government camps during the Great Depression.

This wonderful group is also marking the end of the 2010 Homelessness Hunger Strike Relay, which I was honoured to participate in.

These groups and over 50 major Canadian organizations are calling on the government to support a national housing strategy and to vote yes to Bill C-304.

Elder Abuse
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. As Canada's population is aging, the needs and interests of older people's safety and security are becoming increasingly important.

The issue of elder abuse is no exception. Elder abuse can take many forms. Many seniors do not report abuse, because they feel isolated or are afraid to speak out. As a result, the problem of elder abuse remains largely hidden.

The government has recognized the importance of this serious issue and has been working to raise awareness of elder abuse. In 2008, we introduced the federal elder abuse initiative, which invested $13 million over three years to help seniors and others recognize the signs and symptoms of elder abuse.

I am proud to say that our government fully understands that this is a complex problem that requires us to work together. Combating elder abuse requires all of us to do our part to raise awareness of this serious issue.

Brain Injury Awareness
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, last month, I tabled a motion to officially recognize June as Brain Injury Awareness Month.

I stand today to draw attention to Canadians who sustain cerebral concussions because they do not wear CSA-approved helmets when engaged in recreational activities where there is risk of head trauma.

Acquired brain injury is a silent epidemic. In Canada it is the number one killer and cause of disability of persons under the age of 44. There is new research linking repeated brain injury to Alzheimer's. The social, economic and emotional consequences of brain injury are devastating not only to the survivors but to their families. They may seem physically untouched, but can lose cognitive abilities and intellectual potential.

Currently, a young man, Brad Cownden, is cycling alone across Canada to raise awareness of acquired brain injury. I urge the government to amend the Hazardous Products Act to add CSA-approved helmets for ski and snow sports. All it takes is a stroke of the pen.